An RAF Typhoon combat aircraft refuels from an RAF Voyager aircraft over the North Sea on October 08, 2020 in flight, above Scotland. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Kyiv has repeatedly urged Western allies to send jets, saying they are essential to challenge Russia’s air superiority.
But Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said on Thursday it would not be “practical” for the UK to do so but would “accelerate” help in other ways.
“These are sophisticated pieces of equipment,” the spokesperson said. “We do not think it is practical to send those jets into Ukraine.”
Downing Street denied it would resist sending jets to Ukraine because the RAF did not have enough.
The UK has already committed to provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Both Ukraine and Russia are believed to be building up their arsenals for an expected offensive in coming months. The war has been largely deadlocked on the battlefield during the winter.
According to the UK, 188,000 Russians have been killed or injured so far in the war.
Sunak told his Cabinet this morning that after conducting a review of the war he had decided a “prolonged stalemate” would only help Vladimir Putin.
“Which was why he had decided there was an opportunity to accelerate UK support working closely with our allies to give Ukraine the best chance of success and make the most of the window of opportunity where Russian forces were on the back foot,” the PM’s spokesperson said.
Asked on Monday if the US was considering sending Ukraine F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Joe Biden said: “No.”
Biden’s deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer, said in an MSNBC interview last week that the US would discuss fighter jets “very carefully” with Ukraine and allies.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that France does not exclude sending fighter jets to Ukraine, but he laid out multiple conditions before such a significant step would be taken.
The conditions, he said, include not leading to an escalation of tensions or using the aircraft “to touch Russian soil”, and not resulting in weakening “the capacities of the French army”.
Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, appeared to balk at the prospect of providing fighter jets, suggesting on Sunday that the reason for the entire discussion might be down to “domestic political motives” in some countries.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday that there are “no taboos” in efforts to help Ukraine, but he added that sending jets “would be a very big next step”.
After months of haggling, Ukrainian authorities last week persuaded Western allies to send the tanks. That decision came despite the hesitation and caution of some Nato members, including the United States and Germany.