U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has hinted that Ukraine will get F-16 fighter jets when they are properly trained and able to maintain the planes and use them in a smart way.
Blinken made this remark in an interview to CNN.
Blinken said the training program on F-16s is moving forward with a number of countries, including dealing with the Russian mines.
“Our military leaders are using their best expertise possible to help determine what it is that can be most effective for the Ukrainians, how quickly can it be deployed, how effectively can they use it. That will continue and the process on the F-16s is moving,” he told Fareed Zakaria of CNN on the sidelines of Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden had ruled out providing F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine despite repeated calls by his Ukrainian counterpart to help strengthen his forces’ tough fight against Russia.
In light of Russia’s increased missile and drone attacks against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelensky has long been asking western countries to provide F-16 fighter jets to help Kyiv take control of its airspace.
The US-made F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine, highly maneuverable, supersonic, multi-role tactical fighter aircraft that has been successfully used by U.S. forces in combats.
But Biden has repeatedly made it clear that the advanced war planes are not on the table, but focused on providing military support in other areas.
Among a coalition of around 50 countries in support of Ukraine, the United States is its largest military supporter, having totaled more than $30 billion in security aid to its ally since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February last year.
In May, Russia warned the West of “enormous risks” if it provides Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.
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