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US to back sending F-16 jets to Ukraine

20.05.2023 07:30
The United States has told allies it will allow them to provide American-made F-16 and other advanced fighter jets to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion, marking a major boost for Kyiv.
The F-16 fighter jet.
The F-16 fighter jet.Balon Greyjoy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

US President Joe Biden informed his Group of Seven (G7) counterparts of the decision at the bloc’s summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on Friday, British broadcaster the BBC reported.

US soldiers will also train Ukrainian pilots to use the jets, according to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.  

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed America’s “historic decision,” saying in a tweet the move “will greatly enhance our army in the sky.”

Britain, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark also hailed Biden’s decision, the BBC reported. 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a tweet: "The UK will work together with the USA and the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to get Ukraine the combat air capability it needs."

Yehor Cherniev, the deputy chair of the Ukrainian parliament’s national security committee, said F-16s could be in operation within four months of the start of training, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported.

The US legally has to approve the re-export of equipment purchased by allies and the move will allow other nations to send their existing stocks of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, BBC reported. 

It is a significant boost to western support for Ukraine as it prepares a major counteroffensive against Russia, The Guardian reported.

Sullivan told reporters in Hiroshima: "Over the past few months, we and our allies and partners have really focussed on providing Ukraine with the systems, weapons and training it needs to conduct offensive operations this spring and summer. We have delivered what we promised."

He added: "Now we have turned to discussions about improving the Ukrainian air force as part of our long-term commitment to Ukraine's self-defence. As the training unfolds in the coming months, we will work with our allies to determine when planes will be delivered, who will be delivering them, and how many."

Zelensky tweeted he looked forward to "discussing the practical implementation" of the plan at the G7 summit in Hiroshima. 

Ukraine’s president will arrive at the G7 get-together on Sunday, according to the BBC.

The G7 brings together the world’s biggest advanced economies and liberal democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States, as well as the European Union as a "non-enumerated member."

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II. 

Saturday is day 451 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, BBC, Interfax-Ukraine, The Guardian