Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Wednesday for Western powers to urgently resolve on a Polish offer that would see his country supplied with fighter jets, but Germany and Canada poured cold water on the idea.
“When will there be a decision? Look, we're at war!” Zelenskyy said in a video on his Telegram channel. “We ask you again to decide as soon as possible. Send us planes.”
On Tuesday, the United States rejected a plan put forward by Poland to send its fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine via a US air base in Ramstein, Germany.
Poland had suggested that its air force would receive F-16 fighters as replacements.
“We have seen in the media that there are discussions between the American and Polish sides. But we sense that the Polish offer is not supported,” said Zelenskyy.
“We don't have time for the media, for all these signals. This isn't ping-pong. It's human lives,” he added.
Although the United States and European allies have supplied Ukraine with weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, they have stopped short of sending fighter jets for fear of triggering a wider conflict with Russia.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking at a Berlin press conference alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, signalled his opposition to the jet offer.
Germany has given “significant” financial support to Ukraine, as well as offering humanitarian aid and some weapons, he said.
“Apart from that, we have to think very carefully about what we are doing, and this certainly does not include fighter jets,” Scholz added.
Trudeau warned of the risk of “expanding or escalating” the war.
“We want to deescalate the conflict, we want to see an end to this conflict,” he said.
“We will be there to support Ukrainians in every way that we can, but we need to be mindful of the best way to support them.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that the prospect of the jets being flown from a US-NATO base “into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance”.
“We do not believe Poland's proposal is a tenable one,” Kirby said in a statement.