European Union Not Sending Fighter Aircraft to Ukraine – Despite reports to the contrary, the European Union (EU), will not be sending fighters to the Ukrainian Air Force to aid in their fight for their survival against the Russians. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed on Tuesday that European Union members will not lend fighter jets to the war in Ukraine after reports were surfacing that they were intending to do just that.
“NATO allies provide different types of military support: material, anti-tank weapons, air defense systems and other types of military equipment for Ukraine, humanitarian aid and also financial support. But NATO is not to be part of the conflict,” he stated in a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the country’s Łask Air Base.
EU Pledges Fighters And Then Pulls It Back:
However, on Sunday the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Sunday that the EU would be sending fighters. “We’re going to provide even fighting jets. We’re not talking about just ammunition. We are providing more important arms to go to war,” he said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told the EU “they need the kind of fighting jets that the Ukrainian army is able to operate… some member states have these kinds of planes,” Borrell said.
The Ukrainian air force flies Soviet-made MiG-29s and three types of Sukhoi jets. Only three NATO nations, Poland, Slovakia, and Bulgaria, fly the MiG-29, a twin-engine fighter jet developed in the 1970s. Bulgaria also flies the Su-25, a close-air support jet also flown by Ukraine.
The original report that the country’s government tweeted out was that it was expecting 70 aircraft, made up of Russian MiG-29s and SU25s. That would have effectively doubled the number of combat aircraft that they started the war with. If the EU or NATO were to send or lend aircraft into Ukraine to fight against the Russians would be considered military interference in Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country, Duda said.
According to a post on the Ukrainian Air Force’s Facebook page, Bulgaria, Poland, and Slovakia were going to send 16, 28, and 12 MiG-29 jets, plus 14 Bulgarian Su-25s, respectively. Ukrainian pilots could operate out of Polish airports if needed, the post added.
NATO Won’t Actively Interfere in the War:
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said late on Monday that his country’s air force does not have enough combat aircraft to guard its own airspace. “We currently have few flying planes, and they cannot be delivered to another country,” Petrov said.
“The other fake news I heard today is that we will be sending troops to Ukraine. There is absolutely nothing true in these two allegations,” he added.
Polish President Andrej Duda said after the NATO press conference with Stoltenberg, “We are not sending any jets to Ukraine because that would open a military interference in the Ukrainian conflict. We are not joining that conflict. NATO is not a party to that conflict.”
While not sending fighter aircraft, other EU and world governments are sending aid to Ukraine. One of the more outspoken government leaders is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose country pledged $50 million in lethal aid and $25 million in humanitarian aid.
“We’re talking missiles, we’re talking ammunition, we’re talking supporting them in their defense of their own homeland in Ukraine, and we’ll be doing that in partnership with NATO,” he said.
“I don’t plan to give the Russian government a heads-up about what’s coming their way, but I can assure them it’s coming your way,” Morrison added.
Where Is the Majority of Russia’s Airpower?
While the Russians have claimed to own the air in the war, thus far, Ukraine’s small air force is still a factor. And that is a big surprise to military analysts as Russia holds a vast superiority in numbers and quality of combat aircraft. It begs the question of why are the Russians are holding back their numbers?
But those numbers haven’t been in evidence since the war began a week ago. Ukrainian pilots are still conducting low-level ground support missions while the Russian Air Force is flying over contested air space more than seven days after they invaded.
Like much of their plan in this war thus far, the Russians seem to have poorly coordinated their air and ground forces and have been vulnerable to the few Turkish-made drones that the Ukrainians have been using.
One senior American official told Al Jazeera that the US estimates that Russia is only using just over 75 aircraft in its Ukraine invasion.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.