watch us on facebook
US State Department: Giving Ukraine F-16 jets remains 'priority'
Training Ukrainian pilots to use F-16s and working with allies to provide Ukraine with advanced fighter jets remains a "priority" for the U.S. in the coming months, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a press briefing on May 22.
"The president has made very clear that we will begin training the Ukrainian military to pilot F-16s and we will work with our allies and partners on the provision of F-16s to Ukraine," Miller said.
Miller added that, while there were no new announcements as to exactly when or how that would happen, it was a "priority" for the U.S. and would begin to be implemented "in the coming months."
The U.K. and the Netherlands agreed on May 17 to build a "fighter jet coalition" for Ukraine. On May 20, the U.S. also declared that it would join the initiative, as did Portugal and Denmark.
So far, Ukraine has received 14 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland and 13 from Slovakia.
However, Ukraine has shown the most interest in the U.S.-built F-16, which has been in service since the 1970s and operated by over 20 nations.
Critics argue that allies' reluctance to supply Western fighter jets and long-range missiles to Ukraine may prolong Russia’s war of aggression and result in thousands of deaths.