Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Monday (March 13) that the country was open for discussions to provide fighter jets to Ukraine. Kyiv has urged the West to provide F-16 fighter jets but this specific demand has not led to enthusiastic replies. Countries like Germany have categorigally denied any such likelihood.
While Finland is currently operating a fleet of F/A-18 Hornet jets, it announced in December 2021 that it was ordering 64 F-35A multi-role fighter jets from US contractor Lockheed Martin.
“We have new F35 fighters coming… When these old Hornets are decommissioned, we can discuss their future use,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters Monday.
However, while Finland plans to replace the jets — the model of which entered into production in the 1980s — the new aircraft are not due to arrive until 2025.
Since the start of the Ukraine war, Western states have provided weapons and other aid to Ukraine which has helped it turn the tide. But Western countries are not in favour of providing fighter jets to Ukraine for the fear of escalation of tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.
But experts have noted that red lines in other areas have shifted, including the initial opposition to delivering heavy tanks which was dropped in January.
While some European nations have softened in their stance even on fighter jets, US President Joe Biden declared in an interview with ABC News in February that Ukraine “doesn’t need F-16s now”.
Marin already sparked controversy at home when she told reporters that she was open to discussing the matter during a visit to Kyiv on Friday.
“I think we can have a discussion about the Hornets, whether it would be possible to hand them over to Ukraine, and what kind of training they might need alongside them,” she said.
“No decisions have been made,” Marin stressed and added that such an initiative would need international cooperation.
(With inputs from agencies)
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