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Finnish president rules out transfer of Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine before arrival of new aircraft

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of transferring Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine prior to the arrival of F-35s purchased by the country to replenish its warplane inventory.

“We have made a very extraordinary purchase, during the time, of Hornets and renewed it now by buying F-35s. They are extremely big purchases for a small country. Why? Because we are very decisive that we need strong protection. And that’s why we couldn’t give up the Hornets before we get the new ones,” Niinisto said at a press conference in Helsinki with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Finland cannot provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, as Kyiv has repeatedly requested, Niinisto said, and given the reason that Kyiv does not have such aircraft.

While they have Hornet fighter jets, he believes they will be old by the time the new fighter jets purchased by Helsinki arrive.

Niinisto also commented on Ukraine’s bid to join NATO, saying all NATO countries must speak with one voice on this issue in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where the 31-member military alliance will hold its upcoming summit.

For his part, Zelenskyy reiterated Ukraine’s need for fighter jets and expressed confidence that they will be delivered eventually, but that the war with Russia is unfolding in such a way that we “constantly have to prove something on the battlefield.”

“I am very much sure about the warplanes because we will have a counteroffensive very soon. And after them, I am sure, they will give us planes,” Zelenskyy asserted.

When asked what kind of security guarantees Ukraine wants, Zelenskyy said the best security guarantee for the country would be giving Kyiv membership in NATO, but that they understand that this cannot be the case while the war is going on.

“However, we would like our partners to switch from the open door policy to more decisive steps to motivate the Ukrainian public … We would like to have some political support in this direction today … But, in any case, our goal is to have full membership in the alliance,” he said.

Zelenskyy arrived in Helsinki on an official visit, where he also met with the prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark during the Nordic-Ukrainian Summit.

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