Ukrainian and U.S. Air Force commanders discuss supply of F-16s to Ukraine

28 February, 06:10 PM
Ukraine is negotiating the possibility of supplying F-16 fighter jets (Photo:John Torcasio/Unsplash)

Ukraine is negotiating the possibility of supplying F-16 fighter jets (Photo:John Torcasio/Unsplash)

Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk has discussed with the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, General James Hecker, the supply of multi-role F-16 jets to Ukraine, the Ukrainian Air Force press office of reported on Telegram on Feb. 28.

The issue was discussed in the context of strengthening the capabilities of Ukrainian air defenses.

"I discussed the issue of strengthening the capabilities of the air defense of Ukraine in the context of the possible provision of multipurpose F-16 jets to the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Oleshchuk wrote.

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He told his counterpart about the situation in the battle for Ukrainian skies since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and briefed him on the current situation on the front line.

They also raised the question of bilateral cooperation in military equipment, other weapons and ammunition supply within international support of Ukraine.

Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden said that "so far" he rejected the possibility of transferring U.S. F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, as there is currently no need for them.

Answering a clarifying question if fighter jets could be donated in the future, Biden said that no one could know what Ukraine would need for its defense in the future.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked the partner nations, including the United States, for attack aircraft for Ukraine.

Biden has declined this request, saying that his country wouldn't supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets during his visit to Kyiv on the eve of the first anniversary of the Russian full-scale war against Ukraine.

However, Zelenskyy and top officials from the United States, including the State Secretary Antony Blinken, claim the discussion is still open.

U.S. Under Secretary of States Victoria Nuland said that "the situation changes" depending on Ukraine's needs. Biden and Zelenskiy discussed the issue of fighter jets during a meeting in Kyiv on Feb. 20.

Other Ukrainian partner allies are also hesitating over the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that he would not transfer aircraft to Ukraine. Poland said it was ready to act only if there was a collective decision from the West.

The UK was the first and, so far, the only country to announce training for Ukrainian pilots. At the same time, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that British Typhoon fighter jets would be delivered to Ukraine only after the war.

According to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, a positive decision on the transfer of aircraft to Ukraine would take one to two months to secure.

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