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European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell dismissed the idea of sending fighter jets to Ukraine, calling it a “highly controversial” issue, as reported by the El Pais newspaper on Feb. 1.
Earlier on Jan. 25, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that after the West green lit supplying modern tanks to Ukraine, among Kyiv's new tasks ahead was getting Western-type fighter jets.
Critics argue that allies’ reluctance to supply F-16 fighters and long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine will prevent Kyiv from launching a major counteroffensive and liberating the rest of Ukrainian territory. Ukraine’s lack of advanced aircraft and missiles will likely prolong Russia’s war of aggression and result in thousands of deaths.
There have been no high-level talks between Ukraine and the U.S. about providing F-16 fighter jets, but the delivery of such aircraft to Kyiv cannot be ruled out in the future, Politico reported on Jan. 31, citing U.S. officials.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Jan. 30 that he wouldn’t send American fighter jets to Ukraine, even though the U.S. is ramping up military assistance in the form of artillery and tanks.
White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby later defended the Biden administration’s decision not to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, pointing instead to the aid the U.S. is providing, including Abrams tanks.
However, Borrell warned that if Moscow were to launch a new offensive soon, it would happen before the tanks’ delivery.