Since when do we respond to EUROPE? Biden bows to pressure from allies to send F-16s to Ukraine ahead of G7 meeting with Zelensky
- Biden approved sending F16s from allies to Ukraine
- Allies needed approval due to sensitive US technology in aircraft
- Biden meets Zelensky on Sunday at the G7
President Joe Biden has backtracked and given the green light to European allies to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in its battle against Russia.
Faced with pressure from Europe to help Ukraine end the conflict, Biden accepted the move, briefing leaders at the G7 summit.
“President Biden has informed his G7 counterparts that the United States will support the joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter jets, including F-16s,” the adviser told reporters on Saturday. to National Security Jake Sullivan.
“Over the past few months, we and our allies and partners have been really focused on providing Ukraine with the system weapons and training needs to be able to conduct effective offensive operations this spring,” he said. -he declares.
President Biden (left with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak) bowed to European pressure and gave his allies the green light to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in its battle against Russia
Ukraine is planning a massive counter-offensive to retake its territory and try to drive out the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But delivering the F-16s — and training to operate them — will take months.
The US announcement comes ahead of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s in-person visit to the G7 summit in Hiroshima.
Biden will meet with Zelensky on Sunday. Zelensky’s surprise appearance comes after a stopover in Jeddah to address the Arab League. He travels in a French military plane.
“I salute the historic decision of the United States and @POTUS to support an international coalition of fighter jets. This will dramatically improve our military in the skies,’ Zelensky wrote on Twitter.
Zelensky was in Europe this week to meet with leaders from France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany to strengthen alliances and ask for more help.
At the start of the conflict, Biden had resisted sending the advanced military fighter planes to Ukraine for fear they would use them to strike at the heart of Russia, provoking the Kremlin to expand the conflict beyond Russia’s borders. Ukraine.
But several European countries have F-16s in their arsenals and wanted to send them to Kiev but need US permission to give them to a third party due to advanced US technology on the planes.
Sullivan maintained that “nothing has changed”. Our approach to providing arms, equipment and training to Ukrainians has followed the demands of the conflict.
“Now that we have delivered everything we said we were going to deliver,” he added, “we are putting the Ukrainians in a position to advance on the battlefield through the counteroffensive.”
President Biden will meet President Zelensky on Sunday at the G7
F-16 fighter jets have long been at the top of Ukraine’s wish list
F-16 training will be conducted by US personnel in the coming weeks. The timing of this training remains uncertain, but US officials had previously estimated it could take up to 18 months.
“As the training unfolds over the coming months, we will work with our allies to determine when the planes will be delivered, who will deliver them, and how much,” Sullivan said.
The US Air Force has two F-16 air wings in Europe: the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base in Italy and the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. The United States also regularly sends F-16 fighters to Europe and outside Europe on a rotational basis in small groups.
Ukraine has so far relied on much older MiG fighters, 27 of which were donated to it by Poland and Slovakia. Only a few European countries have a supply of F-16s, including the Netherlands which has 40 and Denmark which has 30, in addition to Poland and Norway.
F-16s have topped Ukraine’s weapon wish list since it received main battle tanks from the US, UK and Germany.
Western allies have taken even tougher action against Russia in an attempt to pressure Putin to end the war. G7 leaders announced a new round of sanctions on Friday, targeting Russia’s energy sector and military complex.
Moscow, in response, intensified its bombing campaign in Ukraine.