Ukrainian and US top military commanders discuss Kyiv’s air defense needs

27 February, 11:40 PM
Valerii Zaluzhnyi (Photo:Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)

Valerii Zaluzhnyi (Photo:Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, spoke over the phone with the Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, discussing military aid to Ukraine and the situation on the battlefield, Zaluzhnyi reported via a Telegram post on Feb. 27.

“Updated the need to strengthen the capabilities of the Ukrainian air defense system, including through the supply of F-16 multi-purpose combat aircraft,” Zaluzhnyi wrote.

He also thanked Milley, the leadership, and the people of the United States for their consistent support of Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.

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“Every shell received, every piece of weapons and equipment – are saved lives of Ukrainian military and civilians,” added Zaluzhnyi.

“Thanks to the help of our partners, we are holding on and will definitely win.”

On Feb. 26, the White House stated that the possible transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine isn’t urgent at the moment and is an issue for future discussions.

Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden ruled out the possibility of sending F-16s to Ukraine.

At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said the discussion remains open.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan earlier said Biden and Zelenskyy had discussed the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, but added that fighter jets "are not the key capability."

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.

Previously, U.S. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated Germany wouldn't provide aircraft to Ukraine. Poland said it was ready to act only with broad collective support from the West.

According to Ukrainian 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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