Elusive fighters: NATO countries did not promise aircraft to Kyiv


NATO can only consider supplying fighter jets to Ukraine as a long-term goal, experts interviewed by Izvestia said. On February 14, within the framework of the regular meeting of the heads of the defense ministries of the bloc countries, a meeting of the contact group on Ukraine was held in the Ramstein format. The members of the alliance did not announce the delivery of fighters to Kyiv. At the same time, at least eight countries confirmed their readiness to join the “tank coalition”. At the same time, the Polish side announced that the Leopards would arrive in Ukraine in March. And although the alliance denies a direct clash with the Russian Federation, Moscow is once again reminded of its involvement in the conflict.

On the day of all military

On February 14, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Reznikov arrived in Brussels. Before a meeting of the NATO contact group in the Ramstein format (we are talking about a group of countries that provide weapons to Kyiv), he showed journalists a handkerchief with a fighter jet. Later it turned out that the accessory depicts a Soviet-Russian Su-27, which provoked a double reaction in social networks. Nevertheless, representatives of the NATO defense departments still had to touch upon the supply of military aircraft.

At a press conference, the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the supply of military aircraft to Ukraine is being discussed, but this is not an urgent problem. According to him, the current conflict is a “struggle of logistics” and ammunition, so the alliance needs not so much to provide the Armed Forces of Ukraine with new weapons as to make sure that everything that has already been delivered works as it should. In addition, Stoltenberg mentioned the need to implement the promised deliveries of German Marder infantry fighting vehicles, American Bradleys, and Leopard 2 tanks.

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin noted at the meeting that Germany, Poland, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands have already joined the coalition for the supply of German tanks to Ukraine. The minister added: The West is obliged to provide Kyiv with the resources for a successful counter-offensive in the spring of 2023. Later, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that Leopard tanks would arrive in Ukraine in March.

At a press conference following the Ramstein meeting, Lloyd Austin noted that France and Italy decided to supply Ukraine with new air defense systems, and Norway would provide Kiev with $7.5 billion over five years for military and other assistance. At the same time, he told reporters that he had nothing to say about the delivery of fighters.

The head of the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, Kaisa Ollongren, in turn, said that her country is “very seriously” about Ukraine’s requests for the supply of F-1. However, the minister noted that this issue should be discussed with partners, including the United States. Her Spanish colleague Margarita Robles said that Madrid does not have the combat aircraft Kyiv hopes for.

By the way, on the same day, the transfer of MiG-29 fighters to Kyiv was to be discussed by the Slovak Parliament. However, Defense Minister Yaroslav Nagy, who flew to Brussels, noted that the meeting at the NATO level must first be completed. It also became known that the program of this meeting was not approved by the required number of deputies.

lead the trend

The expert community notes: in fact, NATO countries are considering sending fighter jets to Ukraine rather as a long-term goal.

– The primary goal of discussions around fighters is to achieve an informational result with our own and international “Twitter-public”. And she is interested not in the continuation of the supply of ammunition and artillery systems (the stock of which is depleted) or at least armored vehicles, which is more useful for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but in the so-called new levels of assistance, – Alexander Ermakov, expert of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), military observer, told Izvestia.

According to him, the British initiative to start training pilots can be attributed to such activity. “Many people praise the British for leading this trend. However, in reality they are preparing Ukrainian pilots for the future, for the time after the conflict,” he said.

Britain’s Armed Forces Secretary James Hippie recently stressed that discussions about modernizing the air force for Kyiv have to do with an eye to future potential needs. That is, the long-term perspective may imply a period after the end of the conflict. Moreover, after the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to London on February 8, the office of the British Prime Minister said that they would not transfer fighter jets to Kyiv if this could affect the security of Britain itself. Although the media reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asked the Minister of Defense to find out which of the planes London could transfer to Kyiv.

“If the supply of combat aircraft to Ukraine is being discussed, then in limited quantities and rather as a long-term goal in the event of an aggravation at the front,” Vasily Klimov, a junior researcher at the Center for International Security at the IMEMO RAS, told Izvestiya.

According to him, if this does happen, the effect will be mirrored – an escalation and expansion of the geography of the conflict will follow. At the same time, the North Atlantic Alliance is still not interested in a direct confrontation with Russia, and the development of various scenarios is regular actions for a structure of this kind, he noted.

Alexander Ermakov emphasizes that the possible delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine will not give any special advantages.

– The main problem with aviation is that, in addition to aircraft, a large staff of trained ground personnel, spare parts, consumables, infrastructure and weapons are required. While the practical “exhaust” from this is small, he explained.

According to him, a small number of aircraft will not be useful due to the high saturation of the theater of operations with air defense systems. “Decisive action requires a large number of fighters and a readiness for heavy losses,” the expert concluded.

On February 14, Jens Stoltenberg once again noted: the meetings in Brussels, as a result of which the Ukrainian side receives more advanced weapons, do not mean that NATO is a party to the conflict. However, the official representative of the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, said that day that the alliance is trying to more clearly indicate its involvement in the conflict. “NATO is an organization hostile to us, which confirms hostility every day,” he said. The CSTO said on Tuesday that the alliance increased the number of its forces on the eastern flank by 2.5 times over the year – from 13,000 to 33,000.

high intensity

Despite claims of a lack of involvement in what is happening in Ukraine, NATO is developing a plan in case of involvement in a high-intensity conflict. As found out Bloomberg, the defense ministers of the countries of the alliance at a meeting in Brussels may approve new guidance, including requirements for preparation “for any potential military activity.” According to the publication, the document provides for the option of NATO’s simultaneous participation in a “high-intensity” conflict under Art. 5 of the charter of the alliance, as well as in the conflict “outside the zone of responsibility” of NATO. We recall that according to Art. 5 of the charter of the alliance, an attack on one of its members is considered an attack on all.

According to Bloomberg, NATO countries will be asked to redirect investments “into funds necessary for collective defense.” In particular, we are talking about heavy weapons, as well as strengthening air and missile defense. Once the guidance is adopted, NATO military commanders will detail the requirements for each Ally.

However, the development of such scenarios is not a new phenomenon. “Such instructions are updated regularly in connection with changes in the sources of threats, the emergence of new military-technical and political challenges,” said Vasily Klimov.

In addition, the defense ministers of the countries of the North Atlantic alliance should discuss an increase in the military budget. Recall that the leadership of NATO has long obliges the participants to bring their defense spending to 2% of GDP. Nevertheless, according to Bloomberg, it is unlikely that this issue will be resolved in Brussels due to the lag of a number of states in this indicator. However, the agency notes that the allies will be able to agree on this issue at the summit, which will be held in Vilnius on July 11-12.

The meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels will continue on 15 February. On this day, they will discuss the prospects for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. Recall that the future of Stockholm is still unclear due to Turkey’s position. By the way, Jens Stoltenberg said on February 14 that these countries could join NATO one by one.


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