“Not”. When asked if the United States will supply F-16 fighter planes to Ukraine, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, has responded with that emphatic monosyllable, upon his return to the White House after participating in an act in Baltimore this Monday. .
The answer comes just five days after Biden himself announced to great fanfare from the presidential residence the green light to deliver 31 M-1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, something that the Pentagon had opposed for months, considering that those vehicles did not represent the best solution for the Ukrainian forces.
Almost immediately after the announcement in Washington, and the statement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin promising the delivery of 14 Leopard tanks, plus authorization to other countries to re-export these German-made vehicles, kyiv was back. to the charge reiterating another request: it also needed warplanes to resist the foreseeable new Russian offensive that it anticipates for the spring, and to recover at least part of its territory occupied by Moscow.
The Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksi Reznikov, insisted that the planes are essential to consolidate the kyiv counteroffensive. So far that request has received a mixed response. While Emmanuel Macron in France does not rule out the possibility, Germany rejects it. And Biden has said “no”. The director of strategic communications at the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, declared last week: “I don’t blame the Ukrainians for wanting more and more weapons systems. It’s not the first time they’ve raised fighter jets, but I have no announcements to make on this subject.”
But the Government of Volodímir Zelinsky is optimistic about the possibility of achieving them. An adviser to the Ukrainian president, Mikhailo Podoliak, assures that the West “understands how the war is developing” and the need to send planes that can support the promised tanks.
If this war has shown anything, it is that what is unthinkable today or receives a resounding refusal is approved or occurs a few weeks or months later. “Everything that is impossible today will be possible tomorrow,” Reznikov himself maintained this weekend, in statements to the Canadian television channel CBC. In the first weeks of the war, which will celebrate its first anniversary in February, Washington was strongly reluctant to send equipment it has ended up supplying, from HIMARS missile launch systems to the Abrams, partly for fear of provoking a escalation in the conflict.
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Two weeks ago, the Pentagon was still insisting that these tanks, despite their agility and endurance, are too expensive to maintain and difficult to supply. But, although it will take “many months”, according to Kirby himself, to reach Ukrainian territory, that green light has already been given.
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