NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has disclosed that the alliance is contemplating providing Ukraine with additional fighter jets to complement the Soviet-designed warplanes already provided by some of its member states. The Ukrainian government has recently heightened its calls for its Western allies to supply it with modern aircraft like the F-16s to boost its Air Force’s capabilities.
Stoltenberg affirmed NATO’s commitment to supporting Ukraine and its long-term prospects during the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday. He stated that there is a consensus among member states regarding Ukraine’s future in the alliance. The alliance aims to assist Ukraine in transitioning away from Soviet-era weapons to Western ones to make the Ukrainian military interoperable with NATO countries’ armed forces.
While the focus is on ensuring that Ukraine is well-equipped to repel any potential Russian offensive, Stoltenberg hinted that there is an ongoing discussion about providing other types of jets to Ukraine. He, however, did not disclose what models were being considered. Poland and Slovakia have already provided Ukraine with Soviet-made Mig-29s, but Stoltenberg did not confirm whether NATO was planning to fulfill Kiev’s request for modern fighter jets.
During his surprise visit to Kiev on Thursday, Stoltenberg met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who raised the issue of the lack of a clear timeline for Ukraine’s accession to the bloc. Zelensky also asked Stoltenberg to help overcome the reluctance of some member states in providing long-range rockets and modern fighter jets to Ukraine.
Russia has consistently opposed Western countries’ supply of weapons to Ukraine, stating that it will only prolong the conflict. The Kremlin has also warned NATO that its involvement in the conflict could result in a direct confrontation with Russia.