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Zelensky approaches EU leaders with a fighter jet proposal

Zelensky approaches EU leaders with a fighter jet proposal

The president of Ukraine is in Brussels after pleading with the leaders of France, Germany, and the UK to donate combat planes for the conflict with Russia.

On his second travel outside of Ukraine since the crisis started, President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to persuade a meeting of EU leaders and speak before the European Parliament.

Germany’s Olaf Scholz and France’s Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed in Paris that Russia cannot win the conflict.

France and Germany, according to Mr. Zelensky, have the capacity to “alter the game.”

The sooner Ukraine receives powerful, long-range weaponry and cutting-edge aircraft, he added, “the quicker this Russian assault will cease.” He praised European solidarity.

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He had earlier addressed a joint session of the UK Parliament in Westminster Hall, underlining his plea for fighter jets: “Freedom will win – we know Russia will lose.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told him nothing was off the table.

Mr Zelensky flew to Brussels with President Macron on Thursday, after the French leader vowed Ukraine could count on his support, with France “determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights”.

Chancellor Scholz added: “The position is unchanged: Russia must not win this war.”

Although President Macron has previously signalled some openness to providing fighter jets – Mr Scholz has not.

EU officials know that a strong focus of the Ukrainian leader’s message on Thursday will be on the speedy delivery of weapons already promised as well as the Western planes is he now heavily pitching for.

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Mr Zelensky rarely leaves his own country and a senior Ukrainian official said that he travelled to obtain results.

However, Thursday’s EU leaders’ summit is not a forum for weapons pledges but a chance for Ukraine’s president to be in the room with all 27 EU leaders.

He says fighter jets and long-range missiles are important in addition to the Leopard 2 tanks that Western nations have recently committed to supplying. While Mr Zelensky said he had discussed the issue of combat planes in Paris, he warned there was “very little time” to provide much-needed weaponry.

Both the French president and German chancellor have at times faced criticism for being too slow to support Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky has previously expressed frustration with Mr Macron, who has continued to hold phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion.

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But the Ukrainian president told French newspaper Le Figaro he believed Mr Macron had changed. He said his commitment to support Ukraine to victory and the fact he “opened the door” to tank deliveries last month showed this.

The Russian embassy in London has cautioned the UK against providing fighter planes, describing it as a move that would have global implications.

Since the start of the war, Moscow has repeatedly cautioned the West against supplying weapons and has threatened to take action against any “provocations.”

Downing Street said that Ben Wallace, the UK’s defence secretary, was looking into suitable aircraft, but emphasized that this was “a long-term solution” and that training pilots may take years.

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