Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that Ukraine had started talks with Sweden about the possibility of receiving Gripen fighter jets to boost its air defenses, after meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Zelensky wants to have Gripen fighter jets, which he describes as tentative, come after the United States agreed to send Denmark and the Netherlands F16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
“Today we discussed in detail the future steps related to the possibility of opening the issue of receiving the Swedish Gripen fighters,” Zelensky said in a joint press briefing with the Swedish Prime Minister, adding that the issue will be the focus of his meetings with other Swedish officials.
The Swedish government said in June it would offer Ukrainian pilots the chance to test Gripen fighter jets made by Sweden’s Saab, but also said it needed to use all of its planes to defend Swedish territory.
Zelensky also said on Saturday that Ukrainian pilots had already started training on the planes.
The Swedish prime minister, Ulf Kristersson didn’t mention the Gripens in his comments, but he did condemn a Russian missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Saturday.
“It only makes it more necessary that we support you in all your suffering,” Ulf Kristersson said.
Ukraine and Sweden also signed an agreement that will see Ukraine start manufacturing Swedish CV90 combat vehicles.
According to a statement issued by the Swedish government, Zelensky also scheduled to meet with the Speaker of Parliament, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and the leaders of the main parties in Sweden.
Sweden has been providing assistance to Ukraine’s war effort, supplying it with weapons such as tanks, anti-aircraft systems and armored infantry fighting vehicles.
Sweden’s Defense Minister Pal Jonson said last week that the country intends to provide a new military aid package to Ukraine worth $313.5 million, mainly including ammunition and spare parts for weapons systems that were sent earlier.
This will be the thirteenth package that Sweden has sent to Ukraine since the start of the war, and this brings the total value of military aid it has provided to Kiev to more than $1.8 billion.