Riho Terras, an Estonian member of the European Parliament (Isamaa) and a former commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, has sent a letter to Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, asking for him to resign over the empty promises given to Ukraine; Borrell promised the EU will send “fighter jets” to help Ukraine, but ultimately left the Ukrainians empty-handed.
On 27 February, Borrell said at a press conference that the EU countries would send “fighter jets” to Ukraine at Kyiv’s request to help it counter the Russian air and land assault. “We’re going to provide even fighting jets. We’re not talking about just ammunition. We are providing more important arms to go to a war,” Borrell said.
But it turned out to be an empty promise, angering Ukrainians who are currently fighting hard to defend their country against the Russian military forces.
A U-turn a day later
On 28 February, Borrell acknowledged that the promised jets wouldn’t be sent by the EU but would instead be donated “bilaterally” by individual EU countries. Realistically speaking, because the Ukrainian Air Force uses Soviet or Russian-made jets, only three EU member states that still use the same types of planes, could have made the donation – Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
The Ukrainian parliament tweeted on 28 February the country would receive 16 Mig-29 and 14 Su-25 jets from Bulgaria, 28 Mig-29 from Poland and 12 Mig-29 planes from Slovakia.
According to the Politico magazine, Ukraine had even sent pilots to Poland to pick up the jets and the Ukrainian parliament announced that the planes from Slovakia, Bulgaria and Poland would soon be on their way.
“But by Tuesday, Bulgaria and Slovakia said there was no deal to send fighters, and the Polish president, appearing at a Polish air base alongside NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, said no planes would be flying any time soon,” the magazine said. “We are supporting Ukrainians with humanitarian aid. However, we are not going to send any jets to Ukrainian airspace,” the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, reportedly noted.
Riho Terras said on 2 March at an online discussion, organised by his party’s Parempoolsed (Right-Wingers) wing, that he would send a letter to Borrell, demanding his resignation due to his blunder about the promised fighter jets. “Ukrainians are very angry about the empty promise. No member state [of the EU] had promised those fighter jets,” Terras noted.
Terras later confirmed to Estonian World that he had send the letter, adding the reply would probably “take months”.
Supporting a NATO-imposed no-fly zone in Ukraine
Terras, who was the commander of the Estonian Defence Forces from 2011 to 2018, also expressed his support for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone over Ukraine. “A no-fly zone cannot be established outside Ukraine’s borders, which means that NATO aircraft would have to enter Ukrainian airspace. In my view, this war has to be fought for today, because tomorrow it will come to our doorstep anyway,” he said.
He added that the United States’ reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “weak” and “Ukraine is on its own”. “[The US president,] Joe Biden, is behind the decision not to impose a no-fly zone”.
“If NATO planes were to decide to take over the defence of the Ukrainian airspace, then supremacy over the Russian forces would be assured, I am sure of that. If I were the US president, I would have sent planes to defend the Ukrainian airspace before Russia attacked. The US knew what could happen. Joe Biden is a president who does not want a military conflict,” Terras stated.
“War cannot be won by defensive battles, war can be won by counter-attacks and by retaking territory,” Terras added.
Josep Borrell is a Spanish politician, serving as the European Union’s foreign policy chief since December 2019.