Ukraine Says West’s Reluctance On Jets ‘Will Cost Us More Lives’

 February 05, 2023

A Ukrainian tank fires at Russian positions near Kreminna in the Luhansk region.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has said the reluctance of Kyiv’s Western allies to send jet fighters to aid in the battle against Russian forces will “cost us more lives,” even as he repeated warnings that Moscow is poised to launch a major new offensive in the nearly yearlong war.

“I am sure that we will win this war. I am sure we will liberate all the occupied territories,” Reznikov told a Kyiv news conference on February 5. But without Western supplies of jet fighters, “it will cost us more lives.”

Western leaders have said it is not practical to send such jets to Ukraine given the amount of time it would take to train pilots and maintenance crews and amid fears of widening the conflict.

At the same news conference, Reznikov vowed his country will not use newly provided long-range weapons to target sites inside Russia amid the same fears of escalating tensions.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov holds a news conference in Kyiv on February 5.

“Our partners decided to provide us with weapons capable of firing at a distance of 150 kilometers,” Reznikov said.

“We always tell our partners that we take an obligation not to use the weapons of foreign partners against the territory of Russia, only against their units in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine for the purpose of de-occupying our land,” he added.

Reznikov said Russia could launch a new offensive later this month for symbolic reasons as the war approaches the anniversary of the February 24, 2022, invasion, but that Ukraine was prepared to hold off any major military onslaught, echoing comments earlier this week by Ukraine’s General Staff and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Reznikov’s remarks came as Ukraine’s military, in its regular update on February 5, claimed that 131,290 Russian military personnel had been killed in Ukraine since Moscow invaded last year.

The Ukrainian General Staff said 700 Russian soldiers were killed just over the past day.

The update — which is often higher than Western estimates — also said Russia had lost 3,220 tanks, 6,405 armored vehicles, and 2,226 artillery systems since the war began.

Citing U.S. and other Western officials, The New York Times reported earlier this month that the number of Russian troops killed and wounded in Ukraine was approaching 200,000 in total.

Heavy fighting was under way on February 5 in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in the eastern region of Donetsk, according to Yevgeny Prigozhin the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group.

“In the northern quarters of [Bakhmut], fierce battles are going on for every street, every house, every stairwell,” Prigozhin said on Telegram, adding that Ukrainian forces were not retreating.

“The Ukrainian armed forces are fighting to the last,” he said.

Bakhmut has been virtually razed by repeated Russian artillery bombardments as Moscow has been trying to seize control of the city for months.

Zelenskiy said on February 3 that Ukrainian forces would fight for Bakhmut “as long as we can.”

The British Defense Ministry said that “over the last week, Russia has continued to make small advances in its attempt to encircle” Bakhmut.

“The M03 and the H32 — the two main roads into the city for Ukrainian defenders — are likely now both threatened by direct fire, following the Russian advances,” it said in its regular update on February 5.

Ukraine Territorial Control

Positions of Ukrainian and Russian forces in eastern Ukraine as of February 3.

In the neighboring Luhansk region, Ukrainian forces remained in control of the village of Bilohorivka, the regional governor said, rejecting claims by some Russian-installed officials that the village was captured by the Russian Army.

“Our troops remain in their positions, nobody has captured Bilohorivka, nobody has entered there, there is no enemy there,” Serhiy Hayday told the Ukrainian national broadcaster.

He said the situation was “tense,” as “the number of Russian attacks has increased,” but he added that “all of the [attacks] have been repulsed” by Ukrainian troops.

Three people were wounded on February 5 by two Russian missiles in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to local officials. Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synehubov said the missiles hit a residential building in the city center.

The claims cannot be independently verified.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz again rejected concerns that Berlin’s recent decision to supply Ukraine with its Leopard tanks could make Germany an active party to the conflict with Russia.

“We have carefully weighed every arms shipment [to Ukraine], coordinated them closely with our allies, first and foremost with the United States,” Scholz told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag, in comments seen by dpa ahead of publication on February 5.

“This joint approach prevents an escalation of the war,” said the German chancellor, who has faced much criticism over his initial reluctance to send the Leopards.

Scholz also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin in his telephone conversations “has not made any threats against me or Germany.”

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week said Putin had threatened him with a missile strike that would “only take a minute.” The Kremlin said Johnson was lying.

Scholz said the conversations he had with Putin made it clear they had very different views of the war in Ukraine. “I make it very clear to Putin that Russia has sole responsibility for the war,” Scholz said.


  1. A few tens of thousands more or less of Ukrainian lives, what does this mean in Berlin, Paris or Washington? Peanuts, nothing but peanuts.

    “I make it very clear to Putin that Russia has sole responsibility for the war,” Scholz said.

    Now, Vlad will take those harsh words to heart, withdraw into his private chambers and rethink his illegal and evil war.
    Oh, brother!
    Scholz is not only a naive fool, but also a foolish clown. Hooray for such leaders. They can and will assure the preservation of our way of life far into the future. We look up to them with wondrous awe. They will get their righteous place in all the future history books, like Charlemagne, like Churchill, like Lincoln…
    Maybe you can detect a small bit of sarcasm in my post.

  2. If the fear is F-16s would threaten Russia too much, it needs to be understood that Russian themselves cite international law justifying attacks on places attacks are launched from.

    Ukraine might even choose to limit use to Ukrainian territory (as internationally defined and not the twisted Russian fake border version).

    Ukraine can be trusted to adhere to international law I believe for NATO can withhold further support if they don’t (and they will, and this is a non-issue, but it can be explained to the Russians this way).

    If following the law saves innocent lives, why should we not enable that to happen. It is dismaying, unprincipled, illogical, inhumane, and unjust that we don’t.

    If Russia is going to nuke the world for following international law, just get it over with. I don’t care to live in anarchy. But F-16s would not lead to that anyway, so it’s a moot point.

    • “It is dismaying, unprincipled, illogical, inhumane, and unjust that we don’t.”

      Precisely. Our so-called leaders live in artificial fear, and this is far more dangerous to us than Ukraine defending itself in any which way it can. Try as I may, I cannot comprehend the mindset in Washington.

Enter comments here: