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Former top US general: Jets could seal quick Ukraine victory

Saim Dušan Inayatullah | Richard Connor
February 10, 2023

The former commanding US general in Europe, Ben Hodges, has told DW that the West should provide Kyiv with fighter jets. He said that providing Ukraine with the planes could lead to a victory for Kyiv within the year.

A Slovakian MiG-29
Zelensky had asked neighboring countries directly for fighter jets of the Soviet-type MiG-29 Image: Yorick Jansens/BELGA/dpa/picture alliance

The former commanding general of the United States Army in Europe, Ben Hodges, said that Ukraine could achieve a quick victory if the West provided swift help with fighter jets.

He predicted that the defeat of Russia could otherwise take three to five years, given the current level of Western support.

What the former general said

"The sooner we deliver them the capability to achieve a decisive outcome, the sooner that [the war] could be over," he said, arguing that Ukraine could expel Russian forces from its territory by the end of the year if given additional support.

Hodges told DW's Ines Pohl that concern about training and runway compatibility issues do not make it "unfeasible" to provide Kyiv with the "capability" to use the aircraft. He praised the UK for being "in the lead" in providing several forms of military support to Ukraine.

Hodges said he believed that the only "red line" for Washington's involvement in Ukraine is "boots on the ground."

He stressed that Kyiv must retake Crimea to preserve the "international rules-based order" and the "UN Charter." Hodges added that it is important for Ukrainian ports to maintain access to the Sea of Azov through Crimea.

Hodges — who presided over US forces in Europe from 2014 to 2018 — said he believed that Russia was attempting to "surge" a new offensive, but added that does not have the capability to launch a "major" one.

"They don't have the armored forces, the ability to break through," he said, adding that this isn't going to change the "overall operational environment" in Ukraine.

Kyiv "has enough to limit the Russian success," he said, adding that this will still be "costly" in terms of casualties and ammunition.

Ben Hodges: West should send Ukraine fighter jets

Polish PM says NATO must decide on jets to Ukraine

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday said any decision on supplying fighter jets to Ukraine must come from the NATO defensive alliance.

"There would have to be a decision on the part of NATO, and Poland will eventually decide what to do when there is an unequivocal decision that fighter jets can be transfered to Ukraine," Morawiecki told a press conference in Brussels.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has returned from a whirlwind tour of European supporters, has warned that Ukraine needs artillery, munitions, modern tanks, long-range missiles and fighter jets in time to fend off new Russian offensives.

Zelensky said he saw "positive signals, concerning the respective weapons" from EU leaders and that he hoped that assorted murmurs would become a "concrete voice."

Zelenskyy appeals for Ukraine EU membership

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.