Ukraine’s top general pleads for fighter jets, says ‘a very limited number’ would be enough
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi has called on the West to expedite the transfer of modern fighter jets, arguing Kyiv’s offensive has been slowed down by Russia’s air superiority.
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In a rare and wide-ranging interview with the Washington Post, Mr Zaluzhnyi pointed to the NATO forces’ doctrine which parallels Russia’s and calls for air superiority before launching ground-based deep-reaching operations.
"And Ukraine, moving to offensive operations, should follow which doctrine? NATO's? The Russian Federation's? Or is that none of your business?" he asked, rhetorically.
"‘You have your own doctrine. You have tanks, you have some cannons, you have some [fighting vehicles]. You can do it.’ What is that?""
In his command post, the WP reports, Ukraine’s top general has a screen that shows him everything in the air at any given moment — the aviation from NATO countries at Ukraine’s western border, his own planes in the sky over Ukraine, and Russia’s on the eastern edges.
"Let’s just say the number of aircraft that are on duty near our western borders is twice as much as the number of Russian aircraft devastating our positions. Why can’t we take at least a third of it from there and move it here?" Mr Zaluzhnyi asked.
He explained that, because Russia’s more modern fleet of Su-35s have a far superior radar and missile range, Ukraine’s older jets cannot compete, and troops on the ground are "easily targeted" as a result.
"Nobody is saying that tomorrow we should rearm and get 120 planes. Why? I do not need 120 planes. I’m not going to threaten the whole world. A very limited number would be enough.
"But they are needed. Because there is no other way. Because the enemy is using a different generation of aviation. It’s like we’d go on the offensive with bows and arrows now, and everyone would say, ‘Are you crazy?’ But with this question, ‘No, no.’"