Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Warsaw on Wednesday and said he believes Poland will form a coalition of NATO countries to send warplanes to Kyiv as the Polish led the charge to provide Western-made tanks.
“Just as your (Polish) leadership proved itself in the tank coalition, I believe that it will manifest itself in the planes coalition,” Zelensky said.
Poland was the first country to pledge German-made Leopard tanks for Ukraine, which pressured German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to approve the export. Scholz eventually agreed despite his earlier concerns of escalation, and Germany decided to send its own tanks to Ukraine, some of which have already been delivered.
Poland’s push to send the Leopard tanks also resulted in the US pledging to provide its Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
Poland recently became the first NATO member to pledge fighter jets and has begun delivering Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets. Slovakia has followed suit by providing its MiG-29s, but Kyiv is seeking Western-made aircraft, such as the US-made F-16.
President Biden said that he ruled out sending F-16s to Ukraine “for now,” but the US has been laying the groundwork for the eventuality. At least two Ukrainian pilots have traveled to the US to assess their skills to see how long it would take for them to be trained on F-16s.