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Macron says France won’t send fighter jets to Ukraine right now — but doesn’t rule out future donations

Pauline Lockwood and Teele Rebane in Hong Kong

France will not send fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming weeks, but “excludes absolutely nothing” in the future, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.

Macron explained that Ukrainian troops are unfamiliar with French aircraft and it could take months to train them, so they are choosing to focus on other more urgent needs.

“There is no way that fighter planes can be delivered in the next few weeks, as time is needed for training, delivery, and training for planes unfamiliar to Ukrainian pilots. So I am not ruling it out,” Macron said.

Speaking to reporters in the early hours of Friday at the end of a summit of EU leaders, attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Macron said: “It is clear however that artillery equipment will allow for ground offensives and to hold the line of defense.”

He added that “allies must prioritize equipment that will be the most useful, and fastest, for Ukraine to achieve its end goal” in its fight against Russia.

Arms for Ukraine: In an address to the European Parliament Thursday, Zelensky thanked all the countries that have provided weapons and military assistance to Ukraine, while stressing that his country still needs modern tanks, long-range missiles and modern fighter jets to protect its security, which he said is also Europe’s security.

A day earlier in Paris, Macron told Zelensky that France is “determined” to assist Ukraine in its war against Russia. “We stand by Ukraine, determined to help it to victory,” he said. “Ukraine can count on France and its allies to win the war, Russia should not and will not win the war.”

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