Ukraine's warplane demand currently makes no sense -Germany's Scholz
BERLIN (Reuters) - The question of whether to arm Ukraine with warplanes "currently makes no sense", German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview in which he was asked to address growing calls for western powers to do so.
Interviewed by ZDF public television, Scholz, who earlier faced criticism for perceived foot-dragging over sending Ukraine tanks, said other countries' difficulties in meeting Ukraine's demands vindicated his decision to move in lockstep with them.
Earlier this month, Germany agreed to send, and allow other countries to send, heavy battle tanks to help Ukraine take the offensive against Russian troops in its east. Despite this, deliveries have been slow because of donors' limited supplies.
"Maybe this is an indication of why it's so important to coordinate with each other, with the U.S., for example, and to prepare these decisions carefully so they work."
Ukraine is now asking for warplanes, though Germany does not have any of the F-16 fighters that have been mentioned in this context.
Speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia's invasion, Scholz said he feared that the conflict could become "a very long-lasting war", but added that Germany and the west would support Ukraine for as long as needed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin would eventually have to understand that his war aims - which Scholz noted had several times been revised down since the start of the conflict - were unachievable.
Scholz, who will head to India on Saturday in a bid to rally support for Ukraine against Russia, said he was not deterred by signs that many large, emerging countries were reluctant to condemn Russia.
"There are only a few countries on Russia's side," he said.
(Reporting by Maria Martinez and Thomas Escritt; editing by John Stonestreet and Bernadette Baum)