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WRAPUP 11-Zelenskiy says some European leaders have promised aircraft

(Adds presidential adviser quote, Zelenskiy in Germany's Spiegel)


Ukraine seeks modern planes, longer-range weapons


Second trip abroad for Zelenskiy since Russian invasion


Says 'free Europe cannot be imagined without free Ukraine'


Russia warns against sending fighter jets to Kyiv

By Pavel Polityuk and Andrew Gray

KYIV/BRUSSELS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday he had heard from several European Union leaders at a summit that they were ready to provide Kyiv with aircraft, hinting at what would be one of the biggest shifts yet in Western support for Ukraine.

Zelenskiy gave no further details about the pledges, and there was no immediate confirmation from any European countries. But his remarks came amid signs during a European tour that countries were edging closer to lifting one of the main taboos in military aid for Kyiv since Russia's invasion last year.

"Europe will be with us until our victory. I've heard it from a number of European leaders...about the readiness to give us the necessary weapons and support, including the aircraft," Zelenskiy told a news conference.

"I have a number of bilaterals now, we are going to raise the issue of the fighter jets and other aircraft," he said.

Zelenskiy's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, posted on social media that the question of long-range weaponry and fighter jets for Ukraine "has been resolved" and details would follow. He later edited the post to make it less certain, changing the wording to say the issue "may be resolved".

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Ukrainian TV: "We are holding talks, they are very intense. We will soon have a logistical understanding of when, where and how we can receive the instruments (aircraft and long-range weaponry) in addition to the armoured equipment."

Western countries that have provided Ukraine with arms have so far refused to send fighter jets or long-range weapons capable of striking deep inside Russia.

But the mood has appeared to have begun to shift during Zelenskiy's European tour, which began on Wednesday with a meeting in London with Britain's Rishi Sunak and dinner in Paris with France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Olaf Scholz.

Sunak promised to train Ukrainian pilots to fly advanced NATO fighter jets. He stopped short of offering to supply the planes, but said nothing was off the table.

Zelenskiy said that some of what he had been promised in Paris by Macron and Scholz was still secret.

"There are certain agreements which are not public, but which are positive. I don't want to prepare the Russian Federation, which is constantly threatening us with new aggressions," he said.

Nevertheless, Zelenskiy said in an interview with Germany's Spiegel magazine that Ukraine's relationship with the country goes up and down and he was "constantly having to convince" Scholz to help Ukraine for the sake of Europe.

Addressing the summit of the 27 leaders of EU countries, Zelenskiy called for tighter sanctions on Moscow and punishment for Russian leaders responsible for starting the war.

"I am grateful to all of you who are helping, grateful to everyone who understands how much Ukraine right now needs these possibilities. We need artillery guns, shells for them, modern tanks, long-range missiles, modern aircraft," he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it would be Ukrainians who suffered if Britain or other Western countries supplied fighter jets to Kyiv, and that the line between indirect and direct Western involvement in the war was disappearing.

Such actions "lead to an escalation of tension, prolong the conflict and make the conflict more and more painful for Ukraine," Peskov said.

Summit chair Charles Michel said the EU needed to provide "maximum" support for Ukraine. "We understand that the coming weeks and months will be of decisive importance.

"Artillery, munitions, defence systems (...) you have told us exactly what you need and what you need now," Michel added.

Zelenskiy, making only his second trip outside Ukraine since the invasion following a visit to Washington in December, received a standing ovation in the European Parliament from lawmakers, some in blue and yellow Ukrainian colours.

In his speech he thanked Europeans for taking in millions of refugees - "helping our people, our ordinary citizens, our resettled people here" - and for calling on their own leaders for more support for Ukraine.


Ukraine submitted its application to join the EU days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year, and now wants formal membership talks to start within months. A Ukrainian official said Kyiv was "absolutely sure the decision to start accession negotiations can be taken this year".

Some EU member states want to give Ukraine the morale boost that would come with opening the talks swiftly. But others are more cautious, stressing that would-be members must meet hurdles such as cracking down on corruption before talks can begin.

Russian forces have been advancing in recent weeks for the first time in half a year, fortified with tens of thousands of freshly mobilised recruits, in relentless winter battles that both sides describe as some of the bloodiest of the war.

Kyiv says it expects Moscow to broaden that offensive with a big push as the invasion's Feb. 24 anniversary approaches.

Russia said it had destroyed four Ukrainian artillery depots in the Donetsk region. Ukraine's military said that over past 24 hours, Russian troops maintained offensives in the regions of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Novopavlivka and Vuhledar.

Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine's governor of the mostly Russian-occupied eastern Luhansk province, described a major new Russian assault around Kreminna, along a northern stretch of the eastern front. "So far they have had no significant success, our defence forces are holding firmly there," he told Ukrainian television.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.

Russia launched the war it calls a "special military operation" to combat what it describes as a security threat from Ukraine's ties to the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia's invasion is an unprovoked land grab.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; writing by Peter Graff and Alexandra Hudson; editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Mark Heinrich)