British peace movement: Zelensky fighter jet request is ‘dangerous escalation’ of Ukraine war
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet Ukrainian troops being trained to command Challenger 2 tanks at a military facility in Lulworth, Dorset, England, Feb. 8, 2023. The tanks are not enough, though, says Zelensky. He wants fighter jets. | Andrew Matthews / Pool via AP

LONDON—Providing Ukraine with fighter jets is a “dangerous escalation” of the war and must be opposed, anti-war campaigners warned Wednesday as the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Britain.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for an investigation into what jets Britain can send to the Kiev government as Zelensky used his first visit to London since Russia’s invasion began to urge Britain and other Western allies to provide “wings for freedom” by supplying his air force with advanced jets.

Sunak earlier announced plans to train Ukrainian air force pilots, paving the way for them to fly NATO country jets rather than the Soviet-era fighters currently used by Ukraine.

Addressing Parliament, Zelensky thanked Britain for its support in the war but demanded more firepower in the form of Western fighter jets. He said he wanted a coalition of nations to supply the planes, concluding his speech by thanking Britain “in advance.”

Critics argue training pilots in the range of U.S., French, and European jets Ukraine requests would be difficult and Kiev’s real aim is to further tie its NATO sponsors into engagement against Russia.

Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted footage of Zelensky thanking him for his support last year and urged Sunak to provide Ukrainians with “the extra equipment they need to defeat [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sunak and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer staged a show of unity in support of Britain’s backing for Ukraine.

Zelensky also met Sunak behind closed doors at Downing Street and visited King Charles later in the day.

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said that the Ukrainian president’s visit was “geared towards getting fighter planes.”

She told the Morning Star: “Orchestrated by the disgraced Boris Johnson, this call is designed to put pressure on [U.S. President Joe] Biden and [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz, who are saying no, just as they did previously over tanks.

“This is a dangerous escalation which must be opposed. We need peace, not war.

“It is shameful that there is total support across Westminster parties, allowing the government off the hook over energy company profits, the National Health Service, and public spending.”

Stop the War is organizing a national demonstration in London on Saturday, Feb. 25, to call for de-escalation and peace talks.

A Downing Street spokesman said that no decision had been taken on whether to supply British fighter aircraft, but this is being “actively” considered by British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Morning Star


Ceren Sagir
Ceren Sagir

Morning Star deputy news editor and social affairs reporter, and UK representative for Halk TV.