Zelensky in Brussels: fighter jets for Ukraine?

After meetings in London and Paris, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the EU Parliament in Brussels on Thursday. Ukraine needs more arms and in particular fighter jets from the West to defend democracy in Ukraine and all Europe, he said. Europe’s press is divided on the issue.

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

The West needs more stamina

The fighter jet discussion is not just about short-term goals, Dagens Nyheter reminds readers:

“Zelensky now wants ‘wings’ to be able to fend off the upcoming [Russian] offensive, but the issue is more complex. ... [Fighter jets] would be a great help, but above all in the longer term. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has stressed that the West has a duty to help Ukraine here and now, but that Kyiv must also be given the support it needs to defend itself in the future. He understands that the war will last a long time and that time is Putin’s most important weapon. If Russia is to be defeated, the outside world must show more stamina and think further ahead than the tyrant in the Kremlin.”

Echo24 (CZ) /

Threatened like Israel was in 1973

Echo24 backs Ukraine’s demands and points to the huge amount of aid Israel received from the US in the 1973 Yom Kippur War:

“If US President Richard Nixon had thought about every new weapons system back then and asked himself whether 30 tanks were still okay but 31 crossed a red line, Israel might not exist today. Likewise, the West should stop hesitating now and give the Ukrainians everything they ask for. ... If Ukraine is to finally defeat Putin, it will need consistent and massive supplies of everything, just as Israel did in 1973.”

Ondřej Šmigol
taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

The West owes Ukraine clear answers

The West must clarify just how far it is willing to go, the taz demands:

“Unlike Macron and Scholz, the Ukrainian president is talking plain language: victory, which means the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine — not only from the territories occupied since 24 February 2022 but from Donbass and Crimea as well. For this goal to be achieved, the Western states are to supply combat aircraft — a red line for Scholz, but there have already been a few of those. Solidarity, yes please. But does it have limits? This is one of several questions the West must answer unequivocally. Above all, it owes this to the Ukrainians.”

Barbara Oertel
The Guardian (GB) /

2021 border should be the goal

Fighter jets are not the answer, warns The Guardian:

“The only sensible way out of this conflict has degenerated to the near unmentionable. It is the re-establishment of some version of the 2021 border arrived at — and accepted by Kyiv and European representatives — under the Minsk agreement after 2014. ... [Delivering fighter jets] would blatantly risk a lethal escalation without real help to Ukraine on the ground. It would certainly split western governments and people. That is why the jets gamble cannot be worth it.”

Simon Jenkins
Novaya Gazeta Europe (RU) /

A clear commitment to democracy

According to lawyer Leonid Nikitinsky, commenting in Novaya Gazeta Europa, the key aspect of Zelensky’s speeches was not the fighter jet issue:

“Behind the wish list of weapons, the most important point in his speech — the rule of law as the form of government that Ukraine wants to share with Europe in the future — threatens to go unnoticed: ‘This is our way home.’ ... There is no guarantee that Ukraine, after many months of a state of emergency (martial law), will not slide into authoritarianism itself once the hostilities end. Whatever the outcome, the temptation will be great. But for now, their leader believes in the rule of law — and, it seems to me, sincerely.”

Leonid Nikitinskyj
La Repubblica (IT) /

Don’t hope for a love triangle

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni felt excluded when Scholz and Macron met with Zelensky in Paris. La Repubblica sees her open criticism of the meeting as ridiculous:

“Rome must avoid the trap of always wanting to make a love triangle out of the old Carolingian couple — however battered it may be. For Paris, relations with Berlin will always be a priority. Italy’s goal cannot be to destroy an existing marriage, but rather to strengthen relations with Germany in parallel through the joint action plan [recently discussed in Berlin].”

Marta Dassù
Strana (UA) /

Weapons to counter the upcoming offensive

For Strana, the main goal of the trip is clear:

“Judging by Zelensky’s statements about the need to supply Kyiv with fighter jets, his European trip is an attempt to step up the delivery of these and other weapons to Ukraine. Because the promised tanks will clearly not come in time for the Russian offensive that both the West and Kyiv are expecting. ... Yet Kyiv and the West are pretty much convinced that an offensive is imminent.”

Le Soir (BE) /

The British were the first to say yes

For Le Soir it’s clear why London was at the top of the Ukrainian president’s list:

“Zelensky came to Europe neither out of politeness nor for diplomacy, but for very pragmatic reasons: he is here to demand money, planes, longer range weapons and ammunition. ... That is why London was clearly the top priority: Britain was the first country to decide to send heavy tanks. The same reasoning applies to Germany and France, both of which are crucial for arms deliveries — and to whom Zelensky is offering an opportunity to show that they stand together, despite opinions to the contrary.”

Béatrice Delvaux
The Times (GB) /

The West must now deliver fighter jets

The Times is impressed by the power of Zelensky’s words:

“President Zelensky’s address to parliament was witty, moving, powerful and convincing. He paid generous tribute to the military help and political support Britain has already afforded Ukraine. He insisted, rightly, that this was not simply a local fight against Russian aggression but a symbolic struggle between totalitarian evil and the values of democracy. ... The rapturous applause from peers and MPs was not mere courtesy: the earlier debate in the Commons showed that all parties are united in a determination to do whatever is possible to help Ukraine ... This should prompt Nato into giving Ukraine the fighter jets needed to survive.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Next step after the usual back and forth

The British PM has said Britain will look into sending fighter jets to Ukraine. The Irish Independent detects a pattern:

“First [Ukraine] asks for an advanced weapons system. The US says no, but prompts Ukraine to seek such a system from its closer European neighbours. Nato countries in Europe then show their reluctance to commit to sending anything to Ukraine that would provoke Russia — unless the US is right in there with them. Months of back and forth generally follow. Then the White House says yes — and more weapons inevitably materialise. That is how it played out with the air-defence systems, with the armoured fighting vehicles and more recently with the battle tanks.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Rome is being left out

In the past, Scholz and Macron would have included Italy in such an important meeting, La Repubblica fumes, lamenting that the country has lost influence under Giorgia Meloni:

“This is not just about the Ukraine crisis. Meloni wasn’t excluded from the summit with Zelensky because of the numerous friends of Putin who form part of her government majority. ... Macron and Scholz excluded her because this Italy is no longer homogeneous with the European project. ... On the contrary, within a few months it has once again become a liability, as it was in Berlusconi’s time. Macron and Scholz needed Mario Draghi. But Giorgia Meloni and her government they are happy to dispense with.”

Andrea Bonanni