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Poland will help train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets, PM confirms

01.06.2023 23:00
Poland's prime minister has confirmed that his country will help train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (right) and Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) meet during the European Political Community (EPC) summit in Moldova on Thursday, June 1, 2023.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (right) and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) meet during the European Political Community (EPC) summit in Moldova on Thursday, June 1, 2023. Twitter/Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland

Mateusz Morawiecki renewed the pledge during a visit to Moldova, where he took part in a summit of the European Political Community (EPC) on Thursday.

Morawiecki joined Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and 45 other European leaders attending the event at Mimi Castle in Bulboaca, eastern Moldova, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

During the meeting, the Polish prime minister and his UK counterpart Rishi Sunak co-moderated a discussion on security issues, according to officials.

Morawiecki said afterwards that the 47 leaders held “in-depth talks” on topics to do with Europe’s security architecture amid “the threat from Russia.”

Speaking at a news conference after the summit, the Polish prime minister said that he and several fellow prime ministers had talked with Zelensky about plans for the training of Ukrainian pilots on US-made F-16 fighter jets.

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden told fellow Group of Seven (G7) leaders that the United States would allow Western allies to provide American-made F-16s and other advanced fighter jets to help Ukraine fight Russia's invasion.

Morawiecki told the news conference in Moldova: “We have agreed a timetable for these training courses. Poland will help Ukraine train its pilots on F-16 fighters.”

He said Poland had “too few” of its own F-16s to transfer any of them to Ukraine, but stressed that Warsaw had supplied Kyiv with MiG-29 jets. 

The prime minister told reporters: “This has been much appreciated. During the EPC summit today, President Zelensky thanked me heartily for our role in organising the aircraft coalition for Ukraine.”

Patriots for Ukraine

Morawiecki also said he had urged European partners “to share their US-made Patriot air defence systems with Ukraine as soon as possible” to help Kyiv fight the Russian invasion. 

He added that Poland did "not have enough” of its own Patriot launchers to transfer any of these to Ukraine. 

The Polish prime minister said talks on the subject had been “very constructive and positive” and “several prime ministers whose countries possess the Patriot systems declared they would soon transfer them to Ukraine.”

Morawiecki told reporters that Ukraine’s war effort against Russian aggression “must be constantly supported with financial resources and weapons.”

'Need to ensure closer cooperation' between EU and NATO

The Polish prime minister also said: “We have recognised the need to ensure closer cooperation between two organisations that are important to us, the European Union and NATO.”

He added: “Poland is a member of both the EU and NATO, the world’s strongest-ever military alliance. But we are facing a highly determined opponent … We must prepare ourselves for months … perhaps even years of conflict ... in Ukraine.”

Morawiecki stated: “That’s why cooperation between NATO and the EU will provide an additional positive impetus, bolstering the level of security on the entire eastern flank of NATO and the eastern part of the EU.”

The Polish prime minister also said that, together with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and several Western heads of government, he had “urged partners not to lose sight of the bigger picture of global phenomena" linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including the energy crisis, Russian propaganda, surging energy prices and high inflation.

“We must all work together to ensure that the public … is not fed Russian lies,” he added. 

‘EU should fast-track Moldova’s accession’

Morawiecki also said that Moldova should be offered a fast track to EU membership, to "help protect Chișinău from Russian interference." 

The Polish prime minister added that he had outlined a number of ways to support Moldova, such as “additional security guarantees, combating propaganda and elements of hybrid warfare targeted at Moldova and the involvement of the United States in ensuring security in this part of Europe,” public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

These proposals were “received approvingly” by the European heads of state and government gathered at the European Political Community summit, Morawiecki told reporters.

Other topics discussed included cyber security and migration, the Polish prime minister said.

The EPC summit featured heads of state and government from 47 countries as well as the heads of the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, according to officials.

Thursday is day 463 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, epcsummit2023.md