US President Joe Biden has ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine despite Ukrainian officials calling for urgent air support.
When Biden was asked Monday by a reporter whether the United States would provide the plane, he simply replied, “No.”
His comments came a day after Germany’s head of state also denied sending jets.
Ukraine has long called on its allies to send advanced fighter jets to help Kyiv control its airspace in the ongoing war with Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and senior Ukrainian military officials say there should be no taboo on such military aid, but the United States and its partners say it will lead to further escalation with a nuclear-armed Russia. I’m afraid of Widely regarded as one of the world’s most reliable fighter jets, the American-made F-16 Fighting Falcon is also in service with countries such as Belgium and Pakistan.
These would be a vast improvement over the Soviet-era fighters currently deployed by Ukraine, primarily MiGs, that were built before Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
But Mr. Biden has repeatedly dismissed Ukraine’s pleas for jets, instead focusing on other areas of military aid.
The US announced last week that it would supply Kyiv with 31 of his Abrams tanks, reversing its previous stance on the issue. Britain and Germany have pledged similar support. Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnik welcomed the announcement, but urged the allies to form a “jet fighter coalition” that would provide Ukraine with the Eurofighter, the Tornado, the French Rafales and the Swedish Gripenjet.
In an interview on Sunday, the German Chancellor said it was “frivolous” to discuss sending more military aid to Ukraine when the Ukrainian government had just pledged to send Leopard 2 tanks. .
Olaf Scholz also confirmed to Tagesspiegel that NATO’s military alliance is not at war with Russia and “will not allow such escalation.”
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macon said on Monday, referring to military aid to Ukraine, that “by definition nothing is excluded.” However, he stressed that this should not aggravate the situation or limit France’s ability to defend itself. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov is currently in Paris and plans to discuss the issue with senior French officials.
Another key ally of Ukraine, Poland, has also not ruled out sending F-16s to Kyiv. However, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said such a move would only be possible with “full coordination” with other NATO members.
Andriy Yermak, head of the Zelensky presidential office, said Ukraine had received “positive signals” from Warsaw.
Moscow has repeatedly accused NATO of being a proxy aggressor, and the United States and its allies, including Germany, have been reluctant to send military aid that could escalate the conflict.
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