Send Ukraine jets and you're responsible for the consequences: Putin's chilling threat to UK after Zelenskyy's plea

8 February 2023, 18:04 | Updated: 9 February 2023, 08:23

Putin has issued a chilling threat after Zelenskyy pleaded for jets with Rishi Sunak
Putin has issued a chilling threat after Zelenskyy pleaded for jets with Rishi Sunak. Picture: Alamy/Ukraine President's Office/Downing Street
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Rishi Sunak says "nothing is off the table" after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy renewed his call for the UK to provide them with British fighter jets - but Putin has threatened a "response" if the Government does so.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

On Wednesday, Mr Zelenskyy made a surprise first visit to Britain, his first since the outbreak of the war last year.

The Ukrainian leader, who has been hailed by international leaders for his stewardship of the country during Russia's invasion, warned that the conflict could "stagnate" is the West doesn't provide Ukraine with fighter jets.

Speaking at a joint press conference this evening Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said "nothing is off the table" when pushed on the possibility of supplying aircraft and announced Britain's intention to train Ukrainian fighter pilots.

But Russia has threatened a "response" if the Government does supply the war-torn country with jets, with some Nato states concerned about provoking a direct clash with Putin's forces.

Read more: Tory deputy party chairman says he'd back return of death penalty as 'nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed'

Read more: School dinner staff 'humiliated students, removing pizzas, cookies and water from their plates with tongs over debts'

The Russian Embassy in London made a strong warning against the UK supplying the aircraft, saying Britain would bear responsibility "for another twist of escalation and the ensuing military-political consequences for the European continent and the entire world".

Mr Sunak said that if the UK was to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, conversations would need to happen with allies who provide the aircraft.

The prime minister said: "There is a supply chain around such sophisticated aircraft.

"Those are conversations that the president and I are having and making sure we understand all the supply chain needs that go alongside aircraft like that - making sure they can be used and used safely, kept safely.

"And it is also a conversation we are having with our allies because, particularly some of the aircraft we have, are done through joint treaty with multiple other countries - I think we have seen that with previous bits of kit that others have had to give."

Read more: 'Wings for freedom': Zelenskyy thanks Britain for support as he asks for fighter jets in historic Parliamentary address

Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskyy met in Britain
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskyy met in Britain. Picture: Ukraine President's Office

It comes after Mr Zelenskyy thanked Britain for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine following the provision of game-changing tanks to the war-torn country.

Mr Zelenskyy said he looked forward to the day of victory for Ukraine but, until then, "evil" is still present.

He said he was "proud" of his air force but the country needs more planes to fight the war.

"We pay with our lives... with the lives of our heroes who risk life and death every day," he explained.

After Mr Zelenskyy's address, it emerged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to investigate what jets the UK could potentially give to Ukraine.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said it was a "long-term solution" and that "short-term capability" is what Kyiv needs most at the moment.

Mr Zelenskyy described meeting King Charles as "truly special" moment as the pair greeted one another at Buckingham Palace.

The Ukrainian President was dressed in his trademark khaki green military uniform as he was welcomed by Charles with a wide smile and warm handshake in the Palace's 1844 Room.

He previously said he planned to tell the King during their meeting: "In Britain, the King is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today every air force pilot is a king."

Zelenskyy with King Charles
Zelenskyy with King Charles. Picture: Alamy

President Zelensky leaves Buckingham Palace

After presenting the Speaker of the Commons with a Ukrainian pilot's helmet, he made the plea for planes again, saying the words on the side of the gear read: "We have freedom, give us wings to protect it."

He added: "I trust this symbol will help us with our next coalition, the coalition of planes... wings for freedom."

Addressing MPs in Westminster Hall, he also said Ukrainian victory against Russia will deter aggressors around the world.

"We know freedom will win. We know Russia will lose," he said.

King Charles departs Buckingham Palace after Zelensky visit

"And we really know that the victory will change the world and this will be a change that the world has long needed.

"The United Kingdom is marching with us towards the most, I think, the most important victory of our lifetime. It will be a victory over the very idea of the war.

"After we win together, any aggressor, it doesn't matter big or small, will know what awaits him if he attacks international order...

"Any aggressor is going to lose."

Read more: Bodies of British volunteers Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw returned in Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap

Read more: Putin amasses 500,000 troops for 'new Ukraine invasion' ahead of war's first anniversary

Helmet of UKR pilot: 'We have freedom - give us wings to protect it'

The leader repeated calls for the West to step up sanctions against the Kremlin.

He said Britain provided "preventive" support for Ukraine before the invasion "exactly as it will be necessary every time in the future to prevent aggression from happening".

Zelenskyy: 'Any aggressor is going to lose'

Former prime minister Boris Johnson praised Mr Zelenskyy's “magnificent” speech, emphasising Ukraine's need for "the tools to finish the job".

“The faster we do it the better," Mr Johnson told LBC.

"The faster we do it the bigger the saving in life and the bigger the saving in our defence expenditure because, ultimately, once Putin is beaten in Ukraine, the world is going to be a much safer place.

"Helping Ukrainians now is a massive down payment on future security."

Zelenskyy says 'thank you' to Brits as he addresses the UK parliament

Mr Zelenskyy arrived in the UK on Wednesday morning, welcomed by PM Rishi Sunak.

"Thank you so much Rishi for inviting me and for me great honour to be here in Britain," he said.

"And thanks Britain for society first of all for your big support from the first days of full-scale invasion.

"Thank you so much. We are proud really and we have very good relations with Rishi."

Mr Sunak said: "Great pleasure to welcome my friend President Zelensky to the UK.

"We've had a good chat already, we've got lots to discuss over the course of this day about how we can continue to support Ukraine in their struggle against Russia.

"It's a privilege to have you here, Volodymyr. We want to stand by you throughout this conflict and ensure that you're victorious."

Mr Zelenskyy will meet King Charles, address MPs and visit his country's troops that are training to take on Russia by practising within Britain.

It comes as the UK said it will begin training pilots and marines for Ukraine, on top of the soldiers it is already teaching.

A smiling President Zelenskyy was pictured embracing Rishi Sunak after touching down, having flown here via C17.

The two travelled to Downing Street, complete with a heavy security detail, where they posed for photos outside the door to No10 and inside.

The British government also said it will "accelerate" the supply of military equipment to Ukraine.

Read more: Epsom headteacher 'made distressed phone call to sister just minutes before being shot dead by husband'

It has most recently announced it will send 14 Challenger 2 tanks – an effort thought to be largely designed to get Germany to release Leopard 2 tanks for the war – and AS-90 self propelled artillery.

Mr Sunak has visited Kyiv to meet Mr Zelenskyy, who enjoyed a particularly close relationship with Boris Johnson.

Mr Zelenskyy has already visited Washington DC to visit President Joe Biden.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Labour Party's commitment to establishing Great British Railways (GBR) is a monumental step towards revolutionising our rail network, says Clive Wratten.

King Charles's Speech: Opportunity to Revolutionise British Transport

Jessica Lawson drowned on a school trip in 2015

French lifeguard and local council found guilty of manslaughter after Brit girl, 12, drowned in lake on school trip

The scandal surrounding Strictly Come Dancing has deepened after footage showing former professional dancer James Jordan telling his celebrity partner Georgina Bouzova "kill you" surfaced on social media.

Ex-Strictly star James Jordan hits back after resurfaced training footage from show sparks backlash

Mark Rowley says the number of officers in the Met is falling

Met Police officer numbers drop as force calls for 'thousands of applicants' in new recruitment drive

Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid

Biden tests positive for Covid and cancels Vegas campaign event after saying he would only quit race on doctors' orders

Starmer is set to push for a migrant return deal with the EU

Starmer to push for new migrant return deal with EU, as he seeks to 'renew UK's relationship with Europe' at summit

Keir Starmer faces a challenge over the two-child benefit cap

Keir Starmer seeks to stave off Labour backbench revolt over benefit cap with child poverty taskforce

A man has been shot dead in Kirkby

Man shot dead on residential street close to Liverpool training ground, as police launch murder investigation

Joe Biden has hinted he could step aside from the race against Donald Trump for the White House

Biden hints he could quit election race against Trump on medical advice, as top Democrat calls for him to stand down

The scandal surrounding Strictly Come Dancing has deepened after footage showing former professional dancer James Jordan telling his celebrity partner Georgina Bouzova "kill you" surfaced on social media.

Strictly scandal deepens as footage showing ex-pro telling partner he will 'kill her' emerges

Liz Truss

Reference to Truss' 'disaster' mini-budget removed from King's Speech files after ex-PM complains to civil service chief

Police found "over a dozen" firearms at Crooks' home

Thomas Crooks' father 'called police on the day of the Trump rally shooting'

Cameron Jones left his dying fiancee Demi by the side of the road

Moment driver flees from car wreckage leaving fiancee to die - before he later blames her for horror crash

Kim Johnson wants the two-child benefit cap to be scrapped

Labour MP calls for two-child benefit cap to be axed as she plans King's Speech amendment after policy retained

Adele has played 90 shows in Las Vegas

Adele announces she is stepping back from music after growing to ‘absolutely hate’ fame

Two British travel agents are believed to be the pair found shot dead and their bodies burned in a car in Malmo.

British travel agents thought to be pair shot dead and burned in car in Malmo