US military officials are pushing the Pentagon to approve the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Politico writes about this with reference to anonymous sources familiar with the situation on January 28.
Washington is primarily considering artillery, armored vehicles and ground-based air defense systems for supplies to Kyiv, since they are needed primarily for defense. However, the Ukrainian side is preparing to launch a new offensive in the spring, so discussions about the supply of fighters are gaining momentum.
“I don’t think we’re against it,” a senior Defense Department official said on condition of anonymity.
He also stressed that no final decision has been made, but due to the recent approval of the supply of tanks for the NVO, which were previously banned for export, Kyiv is also optimistic about aircraft.
The day before, the representative of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), Yuriy Ignat, said that the Ukrainian authorities wish to receive 24 fighter jets from international allies as part of the first phase of new military assistance. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, Kyiv wants to receive American F-16 aircraft. The possible sending of combat aircraft to Ukraine is of concern in Western Europe, Ignat also said.
On January 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Kyiv expects to receive combat aircraft, artillery and long-range missiles from the West. He stressed that “we must also expand our cooperation in artillery, we must enter the supply of aircraft for Ukraine.”
Also, Advisor to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Yuriy Sak, in an interview with Reuters, said that the Ukrainian government would insist on the transfer of Western fighters to the country after it received the tanks. He believes that if Kyiv gets fighter jets, it will be a huge advantage for him on the battlefield.
This is not the first statement by the Ukrainian authorities about the supply of fighter jets. On January 25, Der Spiegel magazine reported that after the West promised to supply Kyiv with Leopard 2 tanks, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnik requested fighter jets, warships and submarines.
Western countries have stepped up military and financial assistance to Ukraine against the backdrop of Russia’s special operation to protect Donbass, which began on February 24 last year. The decision to hold it was made against the backdrop of the aggravated situation in the LPR and DPR due to increased shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.