US President Joe Biden ruled out sending F-16 fighters to Ukraine despite pleas for urgent air support from the Kyiv government.
When asked Monday if he would dispatch the fighter jets, the president responded with a resounding “no.”
The refusal comes a week after Washington announced the shipment to Ukraine of 31 Abrams tanks, the most effective in the world according to Biden himself, along with M88 support vehicles.
fear of escalation
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian military authorities believe it is necessary to remove taboos on sending planes, but the US and some of its partners fear that this will lead to a dangerous escalation of the conflict with Russiawhich has a large arsenal of nuclear weapons.
“Since the beginning of the military operation, there has been strong concern about the possible escalation of the conflict and the Russian red lines, which could lead Moscow to take drastic measures,” Michael Desch, professor of international relations and director, explains to BBC Mundo from the Center for International Security at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana (USA).
Vladimir Putin’s government has repeatedly accused NATO of waging a “proxy” war against his country and has warned that further escalation could trigger a nuclear conflict.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told local outlet Ukrainska Pravda on Tuesday that Kyiv needs up to 200 multi-role combat aircraft (such as F-16s) to defend its airspace.
He argued that at the moment Russia surpasses Ukraine by five to six times in the number of warplanes.
a special fighter
The expert also believes that another reason why the United States refuses to send F-16s to Ukraine is its wide autonomy of more than 4,000 kilometerswhich would allow Ukrainians to operate it far beyond their borders.
“It’s not talked about much, but there’s also concern that the Ukrainians may quickly go off-script as to what the US is willing to support, and one way to ensure that they won’t is to control the weapons systems that serve them.” we give,” he says.
For the academic, if Ukraine has the resources that allow it to reach targets in Russia thousands of kilometers from the border, the chances of the conflict escalating to even more dangerous levels multiply.
“A good example is the HiMars multiple launch rocket system, of which there are various types and we have been reluctant to give them the longer-range ones because they would have the ability to hit targets inside Russia,” he says.
The F-16 is a combat aircraft that, “even without tanker support, has enough range to attack deep inside Russia,” he points out.
In addition, these US-made fighters would be a significant improvement over the Soviet-era mostly MiG fighters Ukraine uses today, produced before the country declared independence from the USSR in 1991.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is considered one of the most reliable combat aircraft in the world and is used by other countries including Belgium and Pakistan.
It can be loaded with bombs and guided missiles, and is capable of flying at 1,500 mph, according to the US Air Force.
The F-16’s targeting capabilities would allow Ukraine to engage Russian forces with greater precision in all weather conditions and at night.
Would it make a difference?
Ukraine alleges that advanced fighter jetss can help defend your airspace of the Russian attacks, although experts doubt that it could be a decisive element in the war.
“On neither side are fighters playing an important role in ground operations. For example, the Russians are using a lot of large bombers with cruise missiles or hypersonic missiles, and on the Ukrainian side it is very similar,” Desch assesses.
He argues that “the air defense network on both sides is very dense and very difficult for fighters to bypass.”
In this situation, the F-16 “could perhaps be a little more effective than other planes” although without actually making a difference in the course of the conflict, according to the analyst.
If anything, Biden has repeatedly rejected Ukraine’s requests for planes, instead focusing on providing military support in other areas.
Some of its Western allies, however, have expressed differing views.
Division in Europe
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron did not rule out sending jets to Ukraine, although he qualified that this should not lead to an additional increase in tension or reduce his country’s own defense capacity.
The Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, is in Paris, where he plans to discuss this issue with Macron and the French military commanders.
Poland, another key Ukraine ally, has also not ruled out sending F-16s to Kyiv.
However, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that it would only be possible “in full coordination” with other NATO members.
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk called on the allies to create a “coalition of fighter jets” to supply him with Eurofighters, Tornados, French Rafales and Swedish Gripens.
The UK government announced on Tuesday that it was not aware of any formal requests for the planes from Ukraine.
“The UK’s Typhoon and F-35 aircraft are extremely sophisticated and take months to learn to fly,” the prime minister’s spokesman Rishi Sunak said.
“We believe that it is not practical to send those planes to Ukraine,” he said.
He assured, however, that Sunak “has held intensive discussions with military advisers” and “the conclusion is that, given Russia’s numerical advantage, a sustained war of attrition would not benefit Ukraine.”
Germany, for its part, has also indicated that it will not send fighter jets to Ukraine.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.
BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-internacional-64479066, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-02-01 07:00:07
#Countries #Refuse #Send #F16s #Ukraine
Leave a Reply