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Sunday, April 2, 2023

“Airplanes are the wings of freedom”


Addressing members of the British Parliament on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyyyy spoke about the symbols of the new coalition – the aircraft coalition – and stressed that Ukraine needs aircraft.

“In Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king, for us, of course. Because they are few and valuable to us. Our kings do everything possible and impossible for save lives, and they are eagerly awaiting new planes. […] I see this as a symbol of our new coalition, the aircraft coalition. We need combat aircraft, aircraft are the wings of freedom,” Zelenskyyy said.

This is the Ukrainian leader’s second foreign trip since the February 24 Russian invasion, which was publicly covered by the media. In December 2022, Zelenskyyy traveled to the United States.

On February 8, he hands over the helmet of one of the best Ukrainian pilots to the Speaker of the British Parliament. On the helmet was the inscription: “We have freedom, give us wings to protect it.”

As part of his visit to the UK, the Ukrainian President met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“Thank you for the efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capability, for the humanitarian and financial assistance provided after the start of the large-scale aggression, for the support for Ukrainians who were forced to leave their homes in because of the Russian war,” Volodymyr said. Zelenskyyyy told the British chief of staff.

The President briefed the British Prime Minister on the situation at the front and Ukraine’s main needs in terms of armaments and military equipment. He stressed the importance for Ukraine to receive the necessary weapons from the allies in order to stop the Russian offensive and liberate all temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories.

During the meeting, Zelenskyyy and Sunak discussed defense cooperation and all issues on the bilateral agenda: the implementation of the peace formula, Euro- of Ukraine, the future support of the United Kingdom, the possibility of involving the British side in the post-war reconstruction of our country, as well as a number of other promising projects.

Polish radio reports that the British Prime Minister has asked Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to consider what planes the country could possibly supply to Ukraine.

“The Prime Minister has instructed the Secretary of Defense to explore what planes we could provide, but to be clear, this is a long term solution, not short term assistance, which the ‘Ukraine needs it most now,’ a spokesman for the British Prime Minister said on February 8.

During a reception at Buckingham Palace, the Ukrainian head of state congratulated King Charles III on his recent ascent to the throne and wished peace and prosperity to the British people.

Euronews notes that at present more than ten thousand Ukrainian soldiers have been trained at bases in the UK, some of them on Challenger 2 tanks provided by London.

According to European publications, the Ukrainian president may attend the summit of heads of state and government of the European Union, scheduled for February 9 and 10 and which will be held in Brussels.

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Volodymyr Zelenskyyyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Necessary, work visit

Political scientist Taras Chornovil notes that this is a necessary working visit to a friendly country, the details of which are “highlighted and confirmed”.

“The parties are exchanging information on what additional weapons we need, and Britain is telling Ukraine what it is prepared to supply, support and what sanctions it can extend. The main tasks of this visit of the leader of Ukraine are very clear: to speak in parliament, to hold a meeting with the prime minister and the king, to visit the Ukrainian military personnel who are in training”, Tchornovil described in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service “Voices America”.

Chornovil stressed that some issues related to the supply of powerful weapons should be “discussed very seriously in silence”.

“In a situation where this discussion has only just begun, when the subject is sensitive for everyone, and the Americans are afraid not to convey the situation to Russia (with planes), and this is the position of our partners, the United States, which can be the main partners in this coalition, since the F-16 is an American aircraft, so when we talk about creating an “air coalition” in this sense, I think it is not is not a very successful pressure factor in the public space”, notes the political scientist.

Now, for Ukraine, we are talking about a full-fledged tank coalition, which has formed well over the current year on a large and wide front for the supply of armored vehicles, says Chernovil.

“As for the ‘air coalition’, there are a number of countries for which this subject is positive, for example for Great Britain, which is ready to supply such weapons, but the main supplier country of planes, the United States has so far refrained from doing so. But at the same time, I don’t think there is any need to break the situation, especially when a very difficult political discussion is going on in the United States between Democrats and Republicans, while there are many questions regarding corruption to the Ukrainian authorities, especially when the situation in the Ministry of Defense “erupted” and the Minister of Defense has not yet been fired or removed from office, in such a situation you need to be more careful in the sentences, ”says the expert.

About Battlefield Negotiations and Priorities

Political analyst Borys Kushniruk notes that Zelenskyyy’s visit to the UK is a working and symbolic trip to a key partner of Ukraine, which was one of the first to declare its support for Ukraine in the part of the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24.

“It’s not just a visit to the Prime Minister, it’s a visit to the country. First there was Boris Johnson, now Rishi Sunak – they unequivocally state the need to support Ukraine until his victory,” said Kushniruk.

On the topic raised by Volodymyr Zelenskyyyy – about the coalition for the supply of aircraft – Kushniruk says that this issue requires clarification.

“This subject is a little sad – not because they cannot be delivered, nor because they do not exist. And because – to teach pilots to use a new type of aircraft, it takes a lot of time. Keep in mind that this is a technique that requires many hours of flight time even for experienced pilots. The important point here is that it is difficult to retrain from Soviet planes to the planes of western technology, not because they are better, but because they are built on a different philosophy, on a different interaction between the pilot and the machine, ”explains the analyst.

He also points out that despite the necessary combat aircraft for Ukraine, today it is worth talking about the supply of medium-range missiles. This can provide offensive opportunities. To advance without weakening the enemy warehouses as much as possible, his control system consists of turning the military into cannon fodder. And missiles in this case can be much more important than planes, ”explains the Ukrainian political scientist.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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