Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson reiterated his country’s refusal on Tuesday to send its JAS Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine, despite the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell hoping for speedy delivery.
Jonson declared that there are no plans to deliver Swedish SAAB Jas Gripen aircraft to Ukraine as it is a matter of national security.
“The ones we have, we need them to protect Sweden. We do not have a surplus of Gripen aircraft, ” Jonson said.
“This has to do with the fact that Russia is now greatly weakened when it comes to ground forces, but when it comes to naval and air forces, they are almost intact. So we have no planes to spare,” Jonson added on his way to a meeting in Brussels.
On training Ukrainian pilots, Jonson was doubtful whether Sweden could contribute.
“We’ll have to look into that in that case, but the basis should be that you should train on the platform on which you will then operate,” said Jonson, thus making clear that sending Swedish fighter jets is not currently on the table.
However, he did not oppose the principle of Ukraine having access to fighter jets, which he called “natural”.
Since Russia’s war against Ukraine started, Sweden has contributed military aid worth SEK 17 billion (€1.6 billion) and humanitarian assistance worth another five billion (€469 million).
As for the weapons Sweden has helped Ukraine with include the Archer artillery system, the Leopard 2 tank, the “90” armoured vehicle and the Carl Gustaf grenade launcher.
Jonson’s declarations happened in a context of a wider international discussion regarding the delivery of F-16 fighters to Ukraine, which Borrell hopes will happen soon.
“In the beginning, everyone is hesitant, but in the end, the decisions to support will be made,” Borrell said as he was on his way to meet EU defence ministers in Brussels Tuesday.
“It will take time, but the sooner, the better. It opens the way for the delivery of jets,” he added.