Any decision by Australia to send retired fighter jets to aid Ukraine’s resistance to invading Russian forces would be welcomed by “cheering” from Europe, according to Lithuania’s foreign minister.
The Lithuanian capital of Vilnius is hosting the NATO leader summit this week, less than 40 kilometres from the border with Kremlin ally Belarus.
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been invited to join the crucial talks, more than 500 days after Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine began.
Last month, Mr Albanese pledged an extra $110 million in military and humanitarian support for Ukraine – but stopped short of committing retired F/A-18 fighter jets to the war effort.
“If that were a possibility, I think that there will be a lot of thanks, a lot of cheering coming from our side of the world to Australia,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing.
“I remember when we saw the first pictures of Bushmaster personnel carriers being offloaded in Poland, and being brought into Ukraine – really it felt heartwarming to know that a country so far away is actually committing itself, committing a weapon and financial resources to assist Ukraine for its fight for independence and sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In May, US President Joe Biden gave the green light for Ukrainian pilots to be trained on US made F-16 planes as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked world leaders for their ongoing support at the G7 summit in Hiroshima.
About F/A-18 Hornet
The RAAF’s fleet of F/A-18 “Classic” Hornets was retired in late 2021 after almost 40 years of service, which included bombing missions in the Middle East against IS. Defence was scheduled to begin dismantling some of the ageing jets for spare parts while other aircraft were expected to go to the US for training purposes.
High-level international negotiations are continuing between Australia, Ukraine, and the United States over the fate of the decommissioned fighter aircraft to be transferred to Ukraine’s air force in its fight against Russia.
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