Former British prime minister Boris Johnson has urged the UK to offer all its fighter jets and tanks to Ukraine.
He said the ‘best use’ for the UK’s 100 Typhoon jets and similar stocks of Challenger tanks was in the battle against Russian aggression. But althought No10 has already pledged to send some tanks, it warned that training pilots could take years.
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Johnson made his call after the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an address to MP’s and Peers at Parliament on Wednnesday where he pleaded with the UK to provide his country with fighter jets.
The current prime minister Rishi Sunak has asked Defence Secretary to look at options for supplying fighter jets to help Kyiv’s forces
The Mail Online reports: Watched by Rishi Sunak, and with Mr Johnson in the audience, Mr Zelensky insisted that more help will be needed to defeat the Russian aggressors. He presented Speaker Lindsay Hoyle with a helmet signed by one of Kyiv’s top pilots and appealed for the UK to supply ‘powerful’ aircraft – after Mr Sunak announced that Britain will train forces in how to fly them.
The message on the helmet reads: ‘We have freedom, give us wings to protect it.’
Amid splits within Nato on how far to go in suppling air power, Mr Zelensky added: ‘Combat aircraft for Ukraine, wings for freedom.’
Mr Zelensky said he had come on behalf of the ‘brave’ who were ‘in the trenches under enemy artillery fire’. ‘We know Russia will lose. We really know that victory will change the world.’
Mr Zelensky singled out Mr Johnson for praise for helping unite the international community behind Ukraine when it seemed ‘impossible’.
‘The people of the United Kingdom and their honourable representatives, all the people of England and Scotland, of Wales and Northern Ireland, of all the lands which have been home to brave souls since Europe came into existence,’ Mr Zelensky said.
‘I have come here and stand before you on behalf of the brave, on behalf of our war heroes who are now in the trenches under enemy artillery fire, on behalf of our air gunners, and every defender of the sky who protects Ukraine against enemy aircraft and missiles, on behalf of our tank men who fight to restore our Ukrainian borders, on behalf of our conscripts who are being trained now including here in Britain.
‘Thank you, Britain.’
Mr Zelensky said: ‘London has stood with Kyiv since day one, from the first seconds and minutes of the full-scale war, Great Britain you extended your helping hand when the world had not yet come to understand how to react.
‘Boris: you got others united when it seemed absolutely impossible. Thank you.’
In a statement after the speech, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is time to give the Ukrainians the extra equipment they need to defeat Putin and to restore peace to Ukraine. That means longer range missiles and artillery. It means more tanks. It means planes. We have more than 100 Typhoon jets. We have more than 100 Challenger 2 tanks.
‘The best single use for any of these items is to deploy them now for the protection of the Ukrainians – not least because that is how we guarantee our own long-term security.
‘Today’s investment in helping Ukraine will avert instability and chaos for years to come. By helping Ukraine to push back Putin, we can make our world safer – and above all, save an innocent country from destruction.’
Mr Johnson acknowledged that ‘the Typhoon is a four-nation plane and we require the approval of allies for export’.
But he said : ‘There is no reason to think that Germany or others should oppose our decision – these are UK planes.
‘Every time we have stepped up with more military support the Ukrainians have responded and turned the tide of war. Now is the time to give them exactly what they need to finish the job,’ Mr Johnson added.
Speaking to LBC later, Mr Johnson said: ‘The point I would make is the faster we do it, the better. The faster we do it, the bigger the saving in life.
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