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President Biden considers sending F-16s to Ukraine, Sullivan says

Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Fighting Falcon. Author: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sarayuth Pinthong. combat jets to Ukraine
The American F-16 fighter jet.

Although the US will support a joint international effort to train Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter jets, there is still no final decision on whether any of those jets will be sent directly from the US to Ukraine, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on 21 May 2023, Politico reported.

During the G-7 Summit in Hiroshima (Japan), US President Joe Biden announced support for the fighter jet coalition, which has pledged to train Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 fighter jet that Ukraine has requested for a long time. Previously, Joe Biden repeatedly rebuffed Ukrainian requests to send F-16 fighter jets.

“I think given the numbers [of F-16s] that are currently available from the stocks of our European allies, and the fact that based on the money Congress has given us, there are so many other priorities for systems to give, it may be that we focus more on third party transfer, but the president has not made a final decision,” Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” when asked whether the US would send the F-16 fighter jets directly to Ukraine.

Sullivan noted that the US has already provided Ukraine with everything it needs for the upcoming counteroffensive. However, the White House national security adviser believes that Western fighter jets are relevant to Ukraine’s long-term defense capacity.

“The United States has mobilized an exceptional effort to deliver on time and in full everything Ukraine needs to launch this counteroffensive. Now that we’ve done that, we can look forward to the long-term capacity of Ukraine to be able to defend itself and deter Russian aggression. Fourth-generation fighter aircraft, Western fighter aircraft, and F-16s are relevant to that fight,” Sullivan said.

Earlier this week, the White House confirmed that the United States and its allies would discuss when and how many Western fighter jets will be delivered to Ukraine to boost its defensive capabilities in the coming months.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured Joe Biden Ukraine would not use Western-provided F-16 fighter jets to strike the territory of Russia, US President told journalists in Hiroshima, Japan.

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