THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that France is not ruling out sending fighter jets to Ukraine, but he laid out several conditions before such a significant step could be taken.
France has sent air defense systems, rocket launchers, cannons and other military equipment to Ukraine and has pledged to send armored surveillance and combat vehicles, but has stopped sending battle tanks or heavier weapons.
Asked at a news conference in The Hague on Monday whether France was considering sending warplanes, Macron said “nothing is off the table” as long as certain conditions are met.
Among those conditions: that the provision of such equipment would not lead to an escalation of tensions or be used to “touch Russian soil” and that it would not “weaken the capacity of the French military,” Macron said.
He also said that Ukraine would have to formally request the planes. He noted that on Tuesday in Paris he will meet with Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksiy Reznikov, who was on a visit.
Ukrainian officials are stepping up demands from Western allies for heavier weapons to push back Russian forces.
On Macron’s side, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that Ukraine has not yet officially requested Dutch F16 fighter jets. He took a cautious stance after the Dutch foreign minister told lawmakers earlier this month that “there are no taboos” about sending warplanes.
“There is no question of delivering F-16 to Ukraine. There are no requests,” Rutte said on Monday. There is no “taboo, but it would be a big next step.”
“It is very important that we continue to support Ukraine and that Ukraine articulates to us what they need,” Rutte said.
He welcomed the recent German and American announcements about sending tanks to Ukraine.
“As the Netherlands, we will continue to see what we can do,” Rutte said. “We don’t have Leopard 2 tanks, we rent them. We said we were willing to buy them and pass them on if that would help. Might be better to use those leased Leopard 2s elsewhere. … Whatever he does.”
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