Ukraine’s 2024 Priority Is to Gain Control of the Skies: Minister

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday his country’s priority for 2024 is to gain control over its skies as Russia’s full-scale assault enters its third year.

“In 2024, of course the priority is to throw Russia from the skies. Because the one who controls the skies will define when and how the war will end,” Kuleba said in an address to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Kyiv has long called on the West to deliver advanced fighter jets to support its troops entrenched in the south and east of the country.

The conflict has ground to a stalemate over the last year, as Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive failed to punch through Russian defenses last year.

Kuleba called for patience among Ukraine’s key Western backers and insisted that with the right support, Ukraine could be victorious.

“We are fighting a powerful enemy, a very big enemy that doesn’t sleep. It takes time,” Kuleba said.

“We defeated them on the land in 2022. We defeated them in the sea in 2023 and we are completely focused on defeating them in the air in 2024,” he said during a panel discussion at the forum in Switzerland.

His comments echo remarks by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said on Tuesday that Ukraine “must gain air superiority” to enable “progress on the ground.”

Various NATO countries are currently training Ukrainian pilots on American-made F-16 fighter jets. Denmark said earlier this month it will transfer 19 F-16s in the second quarter of this year.

Washington had previously resisted allowing the jet transfers for fear of being deemed a direct belligerent in the Ukraine war by Moscow.

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