Wallace dodges fighter jet question as he outlines defence plan

Ukraine: Ben Wallace quizzed on whether UK will send fighter jets

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Ben Wallace has raised doubts over whether fighter jets will be sent to Ukraine despite pleas made by President Volodymyr Zelensky. It comes as the Defence Secretary meets his NATO counterparts in Brussels today at an event which will be dominated by how to help Ukraine fight off the continued Russian invasion as well as discussions on the accession of Sweden and Finland to the alliance.

The conference is set to begin at 8.30am this morning with difficult debates expected on Ukraine’s demands for more weapons to fight Vladimir Putin’s forces.

It will also see continued protracted talks on the expansion of NATO with Turkey unhappy about Sweden and Finland joining the alliance while they are supporting Kurdish insurgents.

It is understood that the Ministry of Defence is reluctant to send fighter jets to Ukraine because Russia has a high level of air defences and there is a good chance they would be shot down.

Appearing on Sky News this morning, Mr Wallace was asked when the UK would send fighter jets to Ukraine.

He said: “What we’re focusing on is delivering for Ukraine the effects that they need, which is either the ability to strike in the deep – that’s at longer range.

“And that’s why things like the M 270, or the HIMARS are in, and indeed the use of UAVs that can drop munitions is another way of delivering that effect.

“The other one is delivering anti-air, which a fighter jet can deliver but also surface-to-air missiles, which is why the international community has donated now thousands of anti-air missiles. The first point is the effect, in the long term, what we’ve got to do is help Ukraine’s resilience, potentially post-conflict to make sure that they can defend themselves in our skies.

“And that’s why training people to fly fighter jets is an important step in that direction. But you know, with this the key here is that these are fighter jets. These are not handheld anti-tank weapons.”

He also noted that it is difficult for pilots to use fighter jets quickly likening them to a Formula 1 car.

Mr Wallace said: “These are these aircraft that take not only months to train on, but also aircraft that require actually a very substantial pit crew to support it. It’s very just different gifting a sort of normal car that you and I might drive around with and a Formula One car.

“You gift a Formula One car, it comes with the pit crew. You need the crew to start it, you need the crew to service it. It is a long tail that goes with a fighter aircraft and I think we can help Ukraine sooner by delivering the effects they need on the battlefield rather than the platform-specific request.”

Poland has been a supporter of giving Ukraine the fighter jets it needs to fight Russia but was effectively blocked by the USA last year from donating its Migs.

However, Germany, which has laws against arms exports and was reluctant to lift them to release tanks for Ukraine, is expected to be even more unwilling to send fighter jets.

Back in Britain, Boris Johnson embarrassed Rishi Sunak by saying “there is no reason” that fighter jets cannot be supplied to Ukraine as he sided with Zelensky.

When the Ukraine President addressed a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall he presented Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle with a Ukrainian fighter pilot’s helmet as a symbolic gift for what he needed.

He added: “In your country, your King (Charles III) is an airforce pilot, in my country airforce pilots are kings.”

Source: Read Full Article