Biden says new opportunities opened for Ukrainian military by F-16 supply

·3 min read
Joe Biden refused to discuss the details of the Ukrainian operation
Joe Biden refused to discuss the details of the Ukrainian operation

Speaking at a press-conference on the sidelines of the summit in the city of Hiroshima on May 21, Biden said the United States and its partners were committed to helping Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression.

"The United States, together with our allies and partners, is going to begin training Ukrainian pilots in fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16s, to strengthen Ukraine’s air force as part of a long-term commitment to Ukraine’s ability to defend itself," Biden said.

Read also: F-16 training program for Ukrainian pilots to be developed within weeks, Dutch PM says

"We provided, the last year, all that they needed to deal with what they were dealing with at the moment, and that’s what — and now we’re moving in the direction of putting them in a position to be able to be — defend themselves in ways beyond what they’ve had to deal with so far."

Up to a certain point these aircraft could not play a decisive role on the battlefield for Ukraine, as it actually needed air defence systems and armoured vehicles, the U.S. President said.

"So, with regard to the F-16s, F-16s would not have helped in that regard at all.  It was unnecessary.  For example — let’s take just Bakhmut, for example — would not have any — any additional added consequence," Biden said.

"The provision of everything from the significant missile defence systems, tanks, sophisticated tanks and the like — all the things that were of consequence in the near term in the Donbas area and where the fighting was taking place — they (the Ukrainian army) now have all that equipment.  There’s a little bit still coming, but they have all that equipment," Biden said.

Read also: G7 leaders pledge to continue supporting Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’

However, when the Ukrainian Armed Forces may achieve a great success in pushing the occupiers back closer to the state border by a counter-offensive, F-16s will help to build on the success and to expand the range of the future attacks, Biden said.

"What’s going to happen, though, is if they continue to do well, they (Ukrainians) are going to be in a situation where you’re going to have the Russians being able to stand off at a greater distance for maintaining their headquarters and other things, which are out of range of certain — of the existing capacity they have.  And they have to be able to be in a position where now those fighter jets, those F-16s, make a big difference in terms of being able to deal with what is coming down the road," the president said.

When asked to comment on the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement about a "colossal risk" which F-16 deliveries may present to the West, Biden said: "It is for them (the risk is for the Russians)."

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