Friday, June 21

Russia stunned by Macron’s latest Ukraine comments

Russia has attacked absurd comments from Emmanuel Macron after he refused to rule out delivering fighter jets to Ukraine, while also warning against the risk of escalation.

Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said: Forgive me, but this is absurd.

Is the president of France really certain that if arms, heavy weapons and aircraft are supplied to the Kyiv regime to conduct combat operations, this will not lead to an escalation of the situation?

Referring to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, Ms Zakharova added: Such statements only increase the already irrepressible appetite of the Zelensky regime.

In a visit to the Netherlands on Monday, Mr Macron said that he would not rule out the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine, telling Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, that nothing is excluded in principle.

However, the French president also said that any arms would not be escalatory and should only be to aid the resistance effort rather than targeting Russia itself.

Ukraine is expecting to receive up to 140 modern tanks from its Western allies, and Mr Zelensky is now urging the West to send fighter jets and long-range missiles.

Western countries have only just approved sending battle tanks to Ukraine, but Kyiv is already requesting F-16 warplanes to help repel the Russian invasion.

While the United States has for now ruled that out, a few European nations appear more open to the idea.

On Monday, Joe Biden appeared to draw the line on supplying American fighter jets to Kyiv.

No, the US president said when asked by reporters at the White House if he was in favour. However, the next day, he said he would talk to Mr Zelensky about his latest requests for advanced weaponry.

In the early months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s partners were reluctant to provide too much military aid, eager to avoid a more direct confrontation between the West and Russia.

However, as the war grinds on, they have repeatedly given in to Ukraine’s appeals for more substantial weapons.

Last December, Washington finally agreed to send its high-performing Patriot air defence missiles. Last month, it announced it would also be sending Abrams battle tanks.

After pressure from allies, Germany approved sending Leopard tanks to Kyiv and said that it would agree to requests from other European countries who wanted to send their own German-made Leopards.