Fighter jets key to defeating Putin, Ukraine MP says

Ukrainian MP reveals what army needs most

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Fighter jets are crucial in order to liberate Ukraine fully in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion almost a year ago, one of the country’s MPs has said. Inna Sovsun made her remarks at a time when the idea is understood to be a topic of serious discussion, with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal saying he was confident of receiving a supply of planes from the West soon.

Ms Sovsun on Saturday welcomed the decision to provide her country with tanks, a move she acknowledged Britain had been instrumental in.

Asked what Ukraine needed most, she was in no doubt.

Speaking to from Kyiv via video link, the member of the Holos party, and Ukraine’s former Minister of Education and Science said: “Planes, fighter jets. That is the biggest one.

“I don’t pretend to be a military strategist but I’ve been watching military movies for a year now and even in movies when the American army goes on offensive, the first thing they do is they ask for support.

“Nobody goes on the offensive when the enemy controls the air so that is what that is, what we need.

“We need to have superiority in order to liberate the rest of our territory.”

She stressed: “We don’t want to attack Russia, we don’t want to, to put a Ukrainian flag in the Kremlin, because that would cost so many lives.

“We just want them out of our territory and to get away from our lives. But we’re doing need air superiority for that.

On the wide issue, Ms Sovsun said western material – not least the HIMARS missile system – had undoubtedly changed the course of the war.

She explained: “My partner is serving in the army and he told me this and I’ve always been telling this in my meetings with the foreign counterparts’ members of Parliament.

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“At the time we were getting the Soviet-style weapons and he said we are never going to be as big as Russia, we will never have as many Soviet-style weapon as Russia has because they have the biggest arsenal of it.”

Hence, with Soviet-area tanks, Ukraine would simply be a small Soviet army fighting against a big Soviet army, she pointed out.

She added: “Or we can be a smarter army, an army using better technologies and that is how we can win. So that is crucial.

“And that was the argument that I was always putting in front of Germans saying, ‘Look you sending us in those swap deals that they were making, they would send Leopards to Poland and Poland would send us the Soviet tanks.

“This doesn’t do us a lot of good because we will always have a smaller number of tanks because Russia is just too big.”

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Ms Sovsun said: “Some of the technological decisions like the HIMARS, they made a strategic difference for us on the battlefield.

“They had moved their warehouses and all of that far away and while of course, we are still having the missiles attacks, like, yesterday almost all day, we were in the area a lot and there were some explosions it’s not the same as it was in October, in September when we had air raids almost every day.

“It’s different now. So it is making a difference.”

Speaking to Politico, Mr Shmyhal said training Ukrainian pilots to use Western jets could take “six months or longer,” emphasising his belief that the process “should be started straight away, or as soon as possible”

Separately, asked if the US could send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a senior US Department of Defense official said: “I don’t think we’re opposed.”

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