Zelensky Inches Towards EU Fighter Jets Deal

On his visit to Europe this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to be inching towards a fighter jets deal with the EU, with some member states signaling that they are ready to provide all the necessary weapons—including combat aircraft—according to a report.

The Ukrainian leader arrived in Brussels on Thursday after visiting France and the U.K., some of Kyiv's main allies, in a bid to get Britain and the 27-nation bloc to provide more weapons to Ukraine to use in its war against Russia.

In Paris, Zelensky met with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, while the Ukrainian leader met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III in London, where he also addressed parliament. The European visit marked Zelensky's second trip abroad since the Russian invasion began nearly a year ago. Throughout the trip, Zelensky has been pressing for more weapons, including fighter jets and long-range missiles, delivered at a faster rate.

Ukrinform, the Ukrainian National News Agency, reported Thursday that Zelensky made some encouraging noises at a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Thursday.

"Undoubtedly, I am most inspired by statements that Europe will be with us until victory. And today I heard from the leaders of some European states that they are ready to provide us with the necessary weapons, including aircraft," Zelensky said during the briefing.

On Thursday, Zelensky held series of bilateral meetings with EU lawmakers where combat aviation was raised, the president added.

He also said a closed meeting of the European Council took place on Thursday.

"Of course, it was closed, but I want you to understand the meaning of what we talked about, and how," Zelensky said. "This meaning was clearly formulated by one of the leaders of the EU. He said that a lasting peace in Europe will be established only when Ukraine wins and becomes a member of the EU and NATO. This is the kind of unity we managed to build today. The unity is that the EU will be with us until Ukraine wins, and Ukraine will be part of the European Union."

Newsweek has contacted the European Commission for comment.

Most NATO allies are wary of sending too many combat aircraft to Ukraine, fearing a Russian provocation. However, Britain has offered to train Ukrainian military pilots and said it would consider providing combat aircraft over the long term.

Thousands of troops and civilians have died since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24 last year. Ukraine is bracing for a new Russian offensive in the east as the one-year anniversary of the war approaches.

Volodymyr Zelensky and Charles Michel
President of the European Council Charles Michel (L) and the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (R) arrive for an European Union leaders summit at the European Council headquarters on February 9, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky began a surprise mini-European tour on February 8, his second trip abroad since the outbreak of the war on February 24, 2022 after his visit to the United States in December. Thierry Monasse/Getty