German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is warning against a race to arm Ukraine with high-powered weapons as Ukraine ramps up its calls for fighter jets and long-range missiles.
Scholz engineered a breakthrough with President Biden to send modern tanks to Ukraine earlier this month, but has said fighter jets is a non-starter.
“I can only advise against entering into a constant competition to outbid each other when it comes to weapons systems,” Scholz said in an interview with German news outlet Tagesspiegel.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued pleas over the weekend for long-range missiles and fighter jets as he seeks to strengthen the country’s air defense.
But Germany has insisted the country will not be equipping Ukraine with the warplanes.
“The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all,” Scholz said, according to Politico.
Moscow has painted the provision of tanks as “direct involvement” in the war, despite Biden’s insistence that the move is “not an offensive threat” to Russia.
The U.S. hasn’t shared any plans to send warplanes.
NBC News reported that Biden got angry with the Ukrainian president on a call last fall, when Zelensky responded to the latest US announcement of billion in aid by piling on additional requests. Biden reportedly told Zelensky that he should be more grateful for U.S. support.
The U.S. plans to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, and Germany, the maker of Leopard 2 battle tanks, said it would send 14 machines and approve other countries’ requests to do the same.
“The speed of supply has been and will be one of the key factors in this war,” Zelensky said in an address on Sunday, noting “significant defense results” from the U.S., Germany and other NATO members.
“Russia hopes to drag out the war, to exhaust our forces,” he added. “So we have to make time our weapon. We must speed up the events, speed up the supply and opening of new necessary weaponry options for Ukraine.”