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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's campaign to get Western leaders to provide Kyiv with fighter jets got a promising prospect on Monday when French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France has "opened the door" to training Ukrainian fighter pilots. The announcement came the day after Zelensky visited Paris as part of a broader tour of Europe. Macron also vowed to send more tanks to help with Ukraine's defense against Russian aggression.
"We have opened the door to training pilots, and this with several other European countries who are also ready," Macron told French media channel TF1.
Macron added that "discussions were underway with the Americans" regarding pilot training programs. The announcement now puts France in the same position as the U.S. and UK. All 3 countries have now either established pilot training programs or are working to, but have not yet provided any fighter jets to Ukraine.
While Macron told the media outlet that France is not currently planning to provide fighter jets to Kyiv, he noted that training Ukrainian pilots for Western aircraft could "start now." Ukrainian pilots traditionally are trained to fly Soviet-made aircraft.
During his European tour this week, Zelensky said that he plans to campaign for a "fighter jet coalition" that would provide Western-made planes to Ukraine's air force. Many Western leaders have reservations about forming such a coalition, however, citing concerns that it would provoke Russia to start a direct conflict with NATO, Zerohedge reports.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reiterated what the Biden administration and other leaders have said when he commented this week that the issue of sending jets to Ukraine "was not a straightforward thing."
"Before delivering a plane, you need to train pilots. It takes a long time. Ukrainian pilots are not trained to use French systems. They don't speak French, let alone English," noted an anonymous Elysée official.
While the U.S. and its Western allies have repeatedly said that they will not provide fighter jets to Ukraine, the actions of France, the U.S., and the UK suggest that fighter jets will perhaps be given a greenlight later - something Putin has repeatedly warned against.