Sweden should send Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine, opposition leader says

A Swedish Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet flies during a media day

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Sweden should prepare to send Jas Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine to help the country defend against the Russian invasion, although the Nordic nation must first complete its own NATO accession process, Sweden's opposition leader said on Thursday.

Sweden earlier this year said it would give Ukrainian pilots the opportunity to test its Saab-made Gripen fighter, but the Swedish government has also said it needs all its planes to defend Swedish territory.

"We can't let Russia win. Jas Gripen would make a big difference to Ukraine," Swedish Social Democratic Party leader Magdalena Andersson told a news conference.

"For Ukraine's offensive to succeed, its air force must be strengthened," she said.

Sweden hopes to join the NATO military alliance, but is awaiting ratification by Turkey and Hungary.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik)