Joe Biden fulfils Ukraine’s F-16 wish with “flat assurance” from Zelenskyy
May 22, 2023
After months of refusing Ukraine’ appeal for modern combat aircraft, US President Joe Biden allowed ally countries to send fighter jets to Kyiv. Biden told G7 leaders that Washington supports joint allied training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets. Training on the U.S. made jets will take place in Europe and will require months to complete. U.S. officials have estimated the most expeditious time needed for training and delivery of F-16s at 18 months. British PM Rishi Sunak said that UK would work with Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark “to get Ukraine the combat air capability it needs. Meanwhile, US’s decision to provide advance F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine has irked Russia. Russian Dy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said that Western countries would be running “colossal risks” if f-16 are provided to Ukraine. As US earlier had expressed its resentment in providing fighter jets to Ukraine, the recent developments raised several questions. Clarifying US’s stance White House NSA Jake Sullivan said that weapons assistance to Ukraine was changing as the conflict changed. However, Sullivan claimed that the jets were provided to Ukraine for defence purpose only not for any offensive attack. Echoing Sullivan’s statement, Biden also assured that Ukraine would not use these F-16s to go into Russian territory. Ukraine is seeking Lockheed Martin made jets to boost its air power against Russia’s offensive air strikes. Ukraine so far does not possess any Western-designed jets and still uses Soviet era fighter jets.