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Ukraine's Defence Minister Hints Kyiv To Get Sukhoi Su-27 Jets From NATO As War Rages On

Sweden is also considering sending the 4.5th-generation multirole Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet to Ukraine, the Swedish Defense Minister, Paul Jonson, said.

Ramstein meeting

IMAGE: AP/twitter/@oleksiireznikov

After Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov held a bilateral meeting with NATO Alliance's Defense Ministers in Brussels, Belgium he told the reporters on Tuesday that there is a possibility that Ukraine will get the Sukhoi Su-27 jets [NATO: Flanker] "soon." As he was seen coming out of the meeting room in the footage aired by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Reznikov confirmed the prospects of receiving fighter jets. Ukraine's Defense Minister Reznikov was seen brandishing a cloth with a fighter jet image on it as he smiled at the media cameras and told reporters gathered in Brussels that he expects the jets to be delivered to Ukraine soon. 

Kyiv calls for 'swift decision' on sending the fighter jets

The Ukrainian deputy foreign minister, Andrij Melnyk, also called for a "swift decision" on sending the fighter jets to the war-torn as Russia's invading forces are expected to launch a major Spring offensive with newly mobilized soldiers. In a statement to German broadcaster ARD, NATO officials labelled the decision of approving fighter jets for Kyiv "just a question of time." When asked at the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting how soon can alliance confirm the decision of supplying fighter planes to Kyiv, Stoltenberg stated that the focus, at present, was to deliver the armoured vehicles, the infantry fighting vehicles, Leopards, the German Marders, the US Bradleys, PATRIOT air defense missile systems, and other MBTs. 

A reporter questioned Stoltenberg that after the EU Council last week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that from his perspective, it would need a unanimous decision by NATO whether in principle fighter jets could be delivered. "Are you preparing any kind of decision like this?" To this, NATO, chief Jens Stoltenberg responded that the issue of aircraft "is not the most urgent issue now. But it is an ongoing discussion."

NATO, chief Jens Stoltenberg noted, "We see no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace. What we see is the opposite, he is preparing for more war, for new offensives and new attacks."

The Alliance's Secretary-General furthermore stated that NATO must ramp up the production of ammunition as consumption of ammunition was far greater than the production capacity of the collective West and NATO  members. "The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of ammunition and depleting allied stockpiles. The current rate of Ukraine's ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production," he stressed.

Declaring that there is a "full-fledged" war that has blown out of proportion, Stoltenberg pledged to further strengthen Ukraine's deterrence and defense and bolster security on NATO's eastern flank ahead of the one-year anniversary of a Russian invasion. NATO's chief justified the supply of the weapons to Kyiv, saying that the European nation had the right to self-defense as enshrined in the UN Charter. Although, he hastily added, that Neither NATO nor NATO Allies "are party to the conflict" with Russia. 

While Stoltenberg outlined that Alliance has decided to provide PATRIOTS, SAMP/T, and other advanced air-defense systems, NASAMS to Ukraine's military, he acknowledged that the" type of support" NATO allies provide to Kyiv "has evolved as the war has evolved."

Sweden planning to send Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine

Sweden is also considering sending the 4.5th-generation multirole Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet to Ukraine, the Swedish Defense Minister, Paul Jonson, said before the Ramstein Summit. In December, Johnson had declared at a joint briefing with Minister of Defense for Ukraine Reznikov at the Odesa-Ukraine Media Center that Sweden had no plans of sending warplanes, fearing that it might trigger a direct confrontation with Russia. “There are no plans to send Gripen planes, to be honest,” Jonson said at the briefing, according to the Swedish newspaper—Aftonbladet. On Tuesday, however, the Swedish Defense Ministry noted that the potential NATO member is considering sending the warplanes. Gripen fighter planes are equipped with AESA-radar, and InfraRed Search and Track System (IRST) that make them highly advanced in warfare.   

"Yes. Of course, we are aware of it, and President Zelenskyy has asked for it as well. When it comes to Gripen, we are currently facing restrictions due to the fact that these aircraft are very important for maintaining our territorial integrity," Swedish Defense Minister, Johsnon, noted. 

Gripen fighter jet. Credit: SAAB. 

Ukraine's Defense Minister, Reznikov, had been pushing for fighter jets from the NATO members for his Air Force, including the United States-manufactured Lockheed Martin F-16s to counter Russia's beleaguered air power. "What is impossible today is absolutely possible tomorrow," he had said in an interview with NPR, adding that his forces are training for advanced Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) Leopard—1, and 2 as well as M1 Abrams tanks. The requests for battle tanks were previously stalled by the US, and its allies, the Defense Minister of Ukraine iterated. "I'm sure that's absolutely realistic," he said about Ukraine's demands for F-16s and other warplanes. 

A spokesperson of the Ukraine Air Force had earlier claimed that Ukraine's pilots will need about six months to master flying the F-16 fighter jets. “Our pilots can learn how to fly those planes in a few weeks. It will take about six months for them to master how to fight the F-16,” Ihnat stressed. The pilots are saying it is not a problem to fly the F-16, they could learn it within several weeks. To fight with these planes is a very different thing, to use all types of weapons,” Ihnat said, addressing a news briefing. Ukraine's Air Force fighter pilots are using the Soviet-designed multi-role MiG-29. 

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