Biden clears way for delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine

Biden clears way for delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine< /p> UPDATE DAY

This is a major turning point in Western support for Kyiv and a decision described as “historic” by President Volodymyr Zelensky: Joe Biden is now ready to allow other countries to supply the Ukraine the combat planes it ardently demands, American-made F-16s.

The American president, who is taking part in the G7 summit in Japan, assured his interlocutors of his “support for an initiative aimed at training Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter jets, including F-16s,” according to a senior White House official.

The announcement was quickly welcomed by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren.

“The UK will work with the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to provide Ukraine with the air combat capability it needs,” Sunak said.

The Ukrainian president welcomed this “historic” decision, which “will considerably help our air force”. He said he was looking forward to “discussing the practical implementation” of the plan in Hiroshima, where he is due for talks with Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G7 summit on Sunday.

Prior approval

Joe Biden, who is orchestrating the Western response to Russia, faces mounting pressure to allow Lockheed Martin's US aircraft to be sent to Ukraine, not by through the United States itself, but through other countries that have them.

The delivery of these aircraft by third countries is indeed subject to the prior approval of Washington, and more precisely to an authorization from the State Department, in order to protect American military technology.

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“As training unfolds over the next several months, our coalition of countries participating in this effort will decide when to provide planes, how many, and who will provide them,” the official continued.

This formulation — “when” and not “if” — is from the United States, the most favorable signal to date for the delivery of these devices claimed by Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking his Western allies for months to provide him with planes that would allow the Ukrainian army to strike Russian troops in depth, without however constituting a miracle solution in the conflict.

“The The training will take place outside Ukraine at sites in Europe and will last for months,” the senior official said, saying “hopefully this training will start in the next few weeks. »

“International Coalition”

On Tuesday, the United Kingdom had pleaded for an “international coalition” intended to supply these fighter jets to the Ukrainian army, but then considered, together with Germany, that it was up to “the White House” to give the final green light.

Poland, which has F-16s, has already indicated that it would be willing to supply them to Ukraine, as has the Netherlands, which, as a number of NATO countries, have undertaken to replace their F-16 fleet with a newer aircraft, the F-35.

For now, no question for the United States to make such a decision themselves, but simply allowing other countries to do so would be a major turning point in the Western response to the Russian invasion in February 2022.

The The White House itself has constantly adapted its position since the start of the war. It thus recently authorized the sending of American tanks to Ukraine, which had long been a taboo in Washington.