Biden clears the way for delivery of F-16 planes to Ukraine
It is a major turning point in Western support for Kiev and a decision described by President Volodymyr Zelensky as “historic”: Joe Biden is now set to allow other countries to supply Ukraine with fighter jets, which the US Builds demands for the F-16.
According to a senior White House official, the US President, who is attending the G7 summit in Japan, conveyed to his interlocutors “support for a joint initiative aimed at training Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighters, including the F-16”. assured of Officer.
The announcement was immediately welcomed by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Crew and Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Olongren.
“The UK will work with the US, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to provide Ukraine with the combat air capabilities it needs,” Sunak said.
The Ukrainian president welcomed the “historic” decision, which would “significantly help our air force”. He said he looked forward to “discussing the practical implementation” of the plan in Hiroshima, where he is expected to hold talks with Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G7 summit on Sunday.
– prior approval –
Joe Biden, who has been spearheading the Western response to Russia, is facing mounting pressure to allow US Lockheed Martin aircraft to be sent to Ukraine, not through the US, but other countries that have access to them. are near
The delivery of these aircraft by third countries is actually subject to prior approval from Washington, more precisely subject to authorization from the State Department to protect US military technology.
“As training begins in the next few months, our coalition of nations participating in this effort will decide when, how many and who will provide the aircraft,” the official added.
This formulation – “when” and not “if” – is by far the most favorable indication for the delivery of these equipment, as claimed by Kiev, from the United States.
Volodymyr Zelensky has for months been asking his Western allies to provide him with aircraft that would allow the Ukrainian military to strike deep into Russian troops, though the conflict will not result in a miracle solution.
“The training will take place outside Ukraine at sites in Europe and last for months,” the senior official said, adding that the training is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
– “International Alliance” –
On Tuesday, the United Kingdom made a request for an “international alliance” with the intention of supplying these fighters to the Ukrainian military, but then speculated that together with Germany it was up to the “White House” to make the final decision. Give the green signal Light.
Poland, which has F-16s, has already indicated it would be willing to supply them to Ukraine, as has the Netherlands, which, like many NATO countries, has replaced its F-16 fleet with a new aircraft. Has taken the initiative to change. F-35.
For now, there is no question of the United States making such a decision on its own, but only allowing other countries to do so would be a major turning point in the Western response to a Russian invasion in February 2022.
The White House has continually adapted its position since the start of the war. Thus it recently authorized the sending of US tanks to Ukraine, a long taboo in Washington.