As the Russian Air Force had deployed its powerful jets including Su-30SMs, Su-35Ss, along with Su-34s and Su-24 strike aircraft, can French Dassault Rafale jets and Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones turn the tide for Ukraine?
After flaring tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Moscow began withdrawing its soldiers that had been holding ‘drills’ near the Ukrainian borders.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that its troops who had deployed to southern and western Russia for exercises over the past few weeks would be returning to their bases.
The fear of a full-scale Russian invasion has perturbed Kiev and they are beleived to have started exploring the latest military equipment to counter Russian aggression. One military hardware that has particularly interested Ukraine is the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country was selling combat drones to Ukraine without preconditions, the deal is not directed against Russia. Earlier, the press service of Baykar, the largest Turkish manufacturer of drones, told Sputnik that Ukraine had already bought Turkish attack drones.
“We sell drones to whoever requests it, we have no preconditions. This deal is not against Russia. We are, fortunately, a country that has good production, we have something to sell,” Cavusoglu told the Haberturk broadcaster.
Rafale Jets For Ukraine
Another military equipment that Kiev would get interested in is a fighter jet that can challenge powerful Russian jets.
Ukraine has not bought any new fighter jet in three decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the fleet still remains a small force needing a booster shot, and France could help.
France has lately been busy selling its latest fourth-generation fighter jet made by Dassault Aviation, and according to Sebastien Roblin writing for National Interest, Rafales could be a game-changer for Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
Last year, Kyiv announced that it would modernize its Air Force fleet by spending up to $7.5 billion over the next fifteen years and procure 36-42 new fighter aircraft, and Paris is keenly eyeing this as a potential Rafale deal.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by the French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation.
Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions- a truly multirole operations platform.
According to Sebastien, the French president is going to pitch Rafales during his visit to Ukraine this summer. However, there’s one major catch – while Kyiv’s air force will be strengthened, it would lead to power imbalance prompting Russia into intensifying its support to separatists in Donbas.
Meanwhile, he also questions the surprising favoritism towards Rafales compared to American and Swedish single-engine fighter offerings.
“But Paris is optimistic that a guarantee of up to 85 percent of a loan to Ukraine to pay for a Rafale buy (for which €1.5 billion has already been set aside) will seal the deal,” he explains why Ukraine could eye this lucrative offer.
Additionally, the United States could be in for a longer game offering the fighters at lower prices to prevent the Chinese acquisition of Ukraine’s Motor Sich engine manufacturer.
France also points to an existing commercial mechanism to sell aircraft to Ukraine established for a €551 million deal for 55 Airbus helicopters.
Nevertheless, even after years of up-gradation and development, the Ukrainian Air Force is still increasingly vulnerable to Russian might, living in a constant threat of invasion and draining its already low coffers on defense equipment.
Help From US, Germany
Ukraine has asked Germany, though in vain, to give it old corvettes amid a military standoff with Russia, according to sources who spoke with the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily.
The German newspaper said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas balked at the suggestion, while Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was open to the possibility of supplying ships to Ukraine.
A list of weapons that Ukraine requested from Germany reportedly included air and anti-ship defense systems and equipment used for mine clearing.
Despite the top diplomat’s reservations, foreign affairs committee chairman Norbert Roettgen told the paper that Germany should not rule out giving Ukraine “purely defensive weapon systems” in the face of Russia’s perceived aggression.
Ukraine has asked the US to provide it with “powerful means of electronic warfare” to counter Russia’s capacity to breach Ukrainian communications, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Reuters in an interview. The request was made during Kuleba’s meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.