Scholz doubles down on refusal of fighter jets for Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz doubled down on his rejection of demands by Kyiv to supply Ukraine with fighter jets on the heels of Berlin’s agreement to send battle tanks.
“The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all,” Scholz said in an interview with Tagesspiegel published on Sunday. “I can only advise against entering into a constant competition to outbid each other when it comes to weapons systems.”
His comments come after a top Ukrainian official said on Saturday that Kyiv and its Western allies were engaged in “fast-track” talks on possibly sending military aircraft as well as long-range missiles to help fight the invasion by Russia.
Scholz last week ruled out providing fighter jets, citing the need to prevent further military escalation. “There will be no fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine,” he said on Wednesday, soon after Germany and the U.S. agreed to provide advanced tanks for Kyiv’s war effort.
Ukraine renewed its request for the fighter aircraft almost immediately after Berlin and Washington announced the tanks. Berlin said Germany and its European allies will send about 80 Leopard 2 tanks.
“If, as soon as a decision has been made, the next debate starts in Germany, this does not look very serious and shakes the confidence of the citizens in government decisions,” Scholz told Tagesspiegel. “Such debates should not be conducted for reasons of domestic political profiling. It is important to me now that all those who have announced their intention to supply battle tanks to Ukraine do so,” he said.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on Saturday that Kyiv was in talks with allies about aircraft, but that some partners have a “conservative” attitude on arms deliveries. Without citing any partners by name, he said this attitude was “due to fear of changes in the international architecture.”
Hans von der Burchard contributed to this report.