Biden rules out sending F-16s to Ukraine ‘for now’
Biden said that Zelenskyy does not need F-16 fighters now (Photo:Скриншот з відео ABC News)
Sending advanced F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine is ruled out at this stage, U.S.President Joe Biden said in an interview with ABC News published on the anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
When asked by the interviewer whether Kyiv needed the fighter jets that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had repeatedly requested, Biden replied: "No, he doesn't need F-16s right now."
The interviewer asked whether this meant that there would never be a delivery of fighter jets, to which Biden said that it was impossible to know exactly what Ukrainian defense would need in the future.
The U.S. leader added that there is currently "no basis upon which there is a rationale, according to our military now, to provide F-16s."
"I am ruling it out for now," Biden said.
He explained that the U.S. military considers other support more important at this stage.
"Look, we're sending him (Zelenskyy) what our seasoned military thinks he needs right now. He needs tanks, he needs artillery, he needs air defense, including another HIMARS," Biden stated.
According to him, Washington will provide the assistance necessary to achieve success on the battlefield in the spring and summer.
"There's things he needs now that we're sending him to put them in a position to be able to make gains this spring and this summer going into the fall," Biden said.
Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked the United States and other allies to provide Ukraine with fighter jets.
Earlier, Biden rejected this request, telling reporters in late January that he would not send F-16s to Ukraine.
At the same time, Zelenskyy and U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said the discussion was open.
Earlier, U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said that "some countries in Europe" are interested in making deliveries of fighter jets. She added that "this is an evolving picture" which changes depending on what Ukraine needs at any given moment.
The issue of fighter jets was also discussed by Biden and Zelenskyy during their meeting in Kyiv on Feb. 20.
Ukraine's other allies have not made a final decision on the fighter jets either. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had previously objected to the transfer of aircraft to Ukraine. Poland said it was ready to act only if the West made a collective decision.
The United Kingdom was the first and so far the only country to announce that it would train Ukrainian pilots. At the same time, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stressed that British Typhoon fighter jets would be delivered to Ukraine only after the war.
According to Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, a positive decision on the transfer of aircraft to Ukraine is a matter of “one or two months.”
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