UK defence minister: Sending jets to Ukraine not right approach 'for now'

Senior Australian ministers visit Britain to boost ties
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaks to the media during a visit to Salisbury Plain, where Australian Defence Forces are supporting the UK-led training of Ukrainian recruits, in Wiltshire, Britain February 1, 2023. Ben Birchall/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Britain has not made a "solid decision" not to send its fighter jets to Ukraine but does not think it is the right approach at the moment, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Wednesday.

"I've been involved with this for a pretty long time. And I've learned two things; never rule anything in and never rule anything out," he told reporters when asked why Britain would not send Ukraine jets.

"This is not a solid decision," he added. "For now, I don't think that's the right approach. ... What's going to move on this conflict this year is going to be the ability for Ukrainians to deploy Western armour against Russia."

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesperson said it would not be practical to send jets to Ukraine because it would take months to learn to fly them.

Wallace said Britain's jets were very complex and might not be applicable in Ukraine.

"What they need right now is armour and tanks," he said. "I think we'd have to be pretty sure that (jets) is going to be the next battle winning requirement. But for now, I think we're focused on the tanks, the land battle."

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis

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