US and Ukraine ‘still holding talks’ under pressure to deliver F-16 jets


UN ambassador says US must ensure Ukrainians “have the necessary training… to use the weapons systems we provide”.

Sunday 19 February 2023 at 18:54 GMT

The US Ambassador to the United Nations hinted Sunday that the White House could reverse its refusal to supply F-16 jets to Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine will be “over” if the EU doesn’t step up military support, says top diplomat

“We’re still having discussions on the ground with the Ukrainians,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s State of the Union, adding that Washington is working “very closely and directly” with Kiev to determine “what their needs are and when.” they they need them”.

As late as January, Joe Biden appeared to be ruling out F-16 transfers. When asked if he would grant Kiev’s request, the president said, “No.”

Referring to previous arms requests, Thomas-Greenfield said “it doesn’t help” if the US supplies weapons systems that Ukraine’s armed forces can’t use and maintain.

“We must ensure that they have the necessary training and the ability to use weapon systems that we are making available to them,” the ambassador said. “Conversations will continue over the next few weeks and months as we determine how best to support them.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who attended the Munich Security Conference, said he believes “a decision will be imminent here when we return to Washington that the administration will begin training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16.”

“They need the weapon system,” Graham told ABC’s This Week. “We need to start training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 now.”

It was reported on Saturday that General Christopher Cavoli, commander of US European Command, told senior lawmakers that supplying Ukraine with F-16s alongside drones and long-range missiles could help Kiev gain advantages over invading Russian forces.

Politico reported that a bipartisan group of lawmakers appealed to Joe Biden to send the jets to Kiev as they “could prove crucial in controlling Ukrainian airspace this year.”

Led by Maine Democrat Jared Golden, the five lawmakers wrote: “Providing such aircraft is necessary to help Ukraine protect its airspace, especially in the face of renewed Russian offensives and the expected increase in large-scale combat operations.

“F-16 or similar fourth-generation fighter jets would provide Ukraine with a highly mobile platform from which to target Russian air-to-air missiles and drones, to protect Ukrainian ground forces when attacking Russian troops, and around Russian troops attack fighters for contested air superiority.”

The US is under increasing pressure to deliver F-16s. After receiving pledges for advanced tanks last month, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address: “We must achieve aircraft supply to Ukraine. And that’s a dream. And that is a task.”

Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, expressed confidence that the jets would eventually be sent.

“We hope … we get the F-16,” Sak told CNBC.

A Zelenskyi adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Ukraine and Western allies were engaged in “accelerated” talks. Podolyak also warned that some states are maintaining a “conservative” stance “for fear of changes in the international architecture.”

On Sunday, Thomas-Greenfield said discussions would “continue.”

“We are here to support the Ukrainians,” she said. “We have never wavered in our support for the Ukrainians. And President Biden said we’ll be there as long as they need us.”


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