President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. won’t be providing F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, appearing to reject a key request from the country as it fends off Russian aggression.
Kyiv has made it clear it would like to have fighter jets such as the F-16s, a hope renewed by the U.S. announcing last week the approval of the transfer of M1 Abrams fighter tanks. Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, told CNBC last week, “We will get F-16s.”
But Mr. Biden threw cold water on that idea Monday. Asked on the White House South Lawn if the U.S. would provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, he said, “No.”
U.S. officials had previously appeared open to the possibility.
Last week, deputy White House national security adviser Jon Finer told MSNBC that the U.S. would discuss the idea of supplying fighter jets to Ukraine “very carefully” with Ukraine and allies. John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, told reporters last week it’s “not surprising” Ukraine has asked for the fighter jets, and the U.S. is in “constant discussion and conversation” with the Ukrainians about their capability needs.
But the U.S. has reversed course on other capabilities to Ukraine, like the Abrams tanks and the Patriot missile defense system, ultimately providing them.
Last week, the president announced the U.S. would send 31 top-of-the-line M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, delivering on a key request. That’s after German said it would provide 14 of their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow allies to re-export their own.
The president said that move “builds on the hard work and commitment from countries around the world, led by the United States of America, to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”
Mr. Biden on Monday also said that he will travel to Poland soon, but he said he doesn’t know when the trip will be.
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