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UK: Warplanes no 'magic wand' in Ukraine conflict

Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace

The United Kingdom repeats its reservation about arming Ukraine with warplanes as Kiev has requested so it can stand up to an ongoing Russian military operation.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace made the remarks on Thursday, shortly after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's office said it did not consider it to be a "practical" step to provide Ukraine with the aircraft given the complexity of their operation.

"You know, even if tomorrow morning we announced we were going to put them in fast jets that would take months," Wallace said, as Ukrainians would face "suddenly having to learn to pilot" them.

"So there is no magic wand in this horrendous conflict," Wallace added.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pressing Kiev's allies in the Western military alliance of NATO for a sustainable and increasingly improving flow of arms in the face of the nearly-one-year-long military operation that has been launched by neighboring Russia against the ex-Soviet Republic.

He recently put up a demand for long-range missiles and fighter aircraft, a plea that has also been rejected by the United States and Germany, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz refusing to enter Berlin "into a constant bidding war when it comes to weapons systems."

Also on Thursday, Sunak, himself, turned down the idea of transferring the jets, saying the aircraft would require "months if not years" of training to fly.

Speaking in a pre-recorded television interview to mark his first 100 days as premier, Sunak, however, asserted, "The issue is what is the support that we can provide that we think will make the most difference? ...That's why the decision I took as prime minister was to be one of the first countries in the world to provide heavy tanks to Ukraine... We were then followed by other countries."

Britain's government said last month it was aiming to send tanks to Ukraine at the end of March, becoming the first Western ally to promise heavy assault vehicles, with a plan to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks.

Following Britain, Germany agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks and drop its opposition to other countries' sending theirs.

Russia, which has not ruled out recourse to negotiation as a means of ending the war, has repeatedly asserted that pumping Ukraine full of Western arms would only prolong the conflict.

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