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Biden, US allies plan to give Ukraine F-16 fighter jets, official says: Report

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. fly in formation over the shores of Lake Superior. (Photo by Photo by Master Sgt. Jason Rolfe, 148th Fighter Wing/Released)
May 19, 2023

The Biden administration and U.S. allies will give F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a senior Biden administration official said, adding that the aircraft may not come from the U.S. directly.

According to NBC News, the official said the U.S. and its allies “will decide when to actually provide jets, how many we will provide, and who will provide them.”

“Discussions about improving the Ukrainian Air Force reflect our long-term commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense,” the senior administration official said.

In February, President Joe Biden said he was not considering sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine amid ongoing pressure from Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy.

“He doesn’t need F-16s now,” Biden said at the time. “I am ruling it out for now.”

One month before Biden’s public rejection, after securing Western tanks to defend against Russia’s invasion, Ukraine requested F-16s and other fighter jets, an adviser to its defense minister said.

“The next big hurdle will now be the fighter jets,” Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told Reuters in an interview. “If we get them, the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense. … It’s not just F-16s. Fourth-generation aircraft, this is what we want.”

“They didn’t want to give us heavy artillery, then they did. They didn’t want to give us HIMARS systems, then they did. They didn’t want to give us tanks, now they’re giving us tanks. Apart from nuclear weapons, there is nothing left that we will not get,” Sak added.

Around the same time, Biden made a surprise trip to Kyiv, where he announced billions more in aid for the war-torn nation.

“As the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Biden said in a statement on the unexpected trip.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.