European Parliament President Roberta Metsola made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, where she encouraged EU governments to send fighter jets to Kyiv.
Metsola is one of several Western leaders beginning to call for fighter jets to be provided to Ukraine in what many see as an escalation with Russia. The increased demands that Ukraine’s Western allies send fighter jets to the war-torn country come weeks after both the U.S. and Germany agreed to send tanks to Kyiv.
“Member States should seriously consider sending warplanes to Ukraine,” Metsola said during a briefing in Lviv in western Ukraine. Metsola added that she would also to continue to advocate for more military equipment to be provided to the country.
While calling for fighter jets and additional military aid, the primary reason for Metsola’s visit was to advance the possibility of Ukraine joining the EU. Metsola noted that she hoped accession negotiations could begin this year. Zelensky assured the EU leader that the Ukrainian government would do everything it could to meet the standards for admission in order to begin negotiations as soon as possible.
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Metsola also attended the ‘United for Justice’ conference, whose purpose is to hold Russian leaders to account once the war has ended.
During her remarks at the conference, Metsola said that without accountability and justice, there could not be peace and noted that appeasement has never worked. Despite Metsola’s view, the EU has not taken a heavy stance against Turkey, which has illegally occupied a large part of EU member-state Cyprus for decades. Turkey remains a candidate country for EU membership, has received funding from the EU, and is integrated with the EU customs union. Given Turkey’s close ties with the EU, it makes it unclear what Metsola’s true stance is.
In addition to Metsola calling for Ukraine’s Western allies to provide fighter jets to Kyiv, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš was also urging the West to escalate the situation with Russia.
“I don’t see why the West shouldn’t deliver fighter jets. If the Ukrainians need fighter planes, they should get them,” Karins said before adding that the “delivery of combat aircraft is only a matter of time.”
Karins also added that European countries, Germany in particular, should increase the production of ammunition to be provided to Ukraine’s frontlines. “Above all, ammunition is now in question. Germany’s industry has the best conditions to strengthen Europe’s defense,” Karins said. “Russia produces 24 hours in a row, they have switched to war economy. We are still producing in peace mode,” Karins added.
“[W]e all want peace. But the only way to peace is through the victory of Ukraine. And for that, she needs our weapons,” Karins concluded.
While both Germany and France have agreed to ship battle tanks to Ukraine, neither major EU military power is ready to commit to sending combat aircraft.
The UK, however, has been actively campaigning for the EU to send jets to Kyiv.
While the British government is not keen on sending its own Typhoon fighter jets to Ukraine, citing the time needed to train Ukrainian pilots and engineers on how to fly and maintain the planes, the Ministry of Defence has agreed to replace the stockpile of any country willing to send Soviet-era or Russian fighter jets to Ukraine
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