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Ukraine war latest: US to formally allow European countries to train Ukrainians on F-16s

by Alexander Khrebet July 17, 2023 1:24 AM 5 min read
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speak during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2023. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on July 16:

  • US to allow European countries to start F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots
  • Military reports advancing over 1 kilometer southeast
  • Russian forces strike Kharkiv, killing 1, injuring at least 3
  • Explosions reported in occupied Sevastopol, Luhansk, Berdiansk, Mariupol
  • Russia continues abducting children from occupied Luhansk Oblast

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that U.S. President Joe Biden will allow European countries to launch the much-anticipated training for Ukrainian pilots to use F-16 fighter jets.

"The president has given a green light, and we will allow, permit, support, facilitate and in fact provide the necessary tools for Ukrainians to begin being trained on F-16s, as soon as the Europeans are prepared," Sullivan said.

European leaders have said they need several weeks to prepare training abilities, said Sullivan.

The statement comes after reports that European countries were still awaiting formal approval from the U.S. to begin training.

"The U.S. will not be the hold up in ensuring that this F-16 training can get underway," he said.

The battlefield conditions in Ukraine are currently "not ideal" for the employment of F-16 fighter jets, Lieutenant General Douglas Sims, the director of operations of the Joint Staff, said on July 13.

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced on July 11 that the "fighter jet coalition" has been officially formed during the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Reznikov signed a memorandum outlining the training terms with 11 coalition members.

Those are Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The coalition also includes Canada.

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Explosions reported in several Russian-occupied cities

Explosions were reported in the Russian-occupied cities of Sevastopol, Luhansk, Berdiansk, and Mariupol.

Exiled adviser to Mariupol's mayor, Petro Andriushchenko, reported Russian air defense working in the port city and that loud explosions were heard in the seaside area.

Ukraine's Armed Forces confirmed striking the Russian ammunition depot in the Yuvileine village, a suburb of Luhansk.

Explosions in the Crimean city of Sevastopol were reported on July 16, according to the Russia-appointed head of occupied Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev.

He claimed Russian air defense and fleet repelled drone attacks. No civilian casualties were reported.

Sevastopol and Luhansk have been Russian-occupied since 2014, while Russian troops occupied Berdiansk and Mariupol in the spring of 2022.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly vowed to liberate all of Ukraine's territory, including Crimea.

Tamila Tasheva, Ukraine's permanent representative for Crimea, told Newsweek on July 16 that Ukraine must deal with an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 Russian citizens who came illegally to Crimea after the annexation.

According to Tasheva, those who do not leave before Ukraine liberates the peninsula will face "expulsion."

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Battlefield update

Ukrainian forces advance in the Berdiansk and Bakhmut directions, the military reported on July 16.

Valeriy Shershen, the spokesperson for Ukraine's Tavria military sector, reported that Ukrainian forces had advanced over a kilometer into Russian defense lines in the Berdiansk direction in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

The situation in the Melitopol direction, where Ukrainian forces are also conducting the counteroffensive, reportedly remains unchanged.

Intense battles are also taking place on the eastern front, according to Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. The front line is changing several times a day, Maliar said.

Over the past day, Russian attacks have been reported in Sumy, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk oblasts.

Moscow keeps focusing its military efforts on eastern Ukraine, the military said.

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Russian attack kills 1, injures at least 3 in Kharkiv

Russian forces have attacked Kharkiv, killing one civilian and injuring at least three others, according to the local authorities.

The Prosecutor General's Office reported that Russian forces struck Ukraine's second-largest city with two S-300 missiles. One civilian was killed, and three others were injured, according to the statement.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov reported on July 16 that seven people were injured.

Soviet-made S-300 missile systems, initially designed for air defense, have been repurposed by Russia to attack land targets in Ukraine.

The repurposed air defense missiles are known for their inaccuracy and have become Russia's weapon of choice for attacks against the cities.

Russia keeps abducting Ukrainian kids

Russian forces continue to abduct Ukrainian children from the occupied Luhansk Oblast, Governor Artem Lysohor reported on July 16.

While Russia claims its forces are "sending Ukrainian children for hospital treatment," Lysohor said Russia hadn't returned even the first group of children taken away this year.

Since Russia unleashed its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, Moscow has abducted over 19,000 children from the occupied territories, according to Children of War, a Ukrainian national database. Only 383 children have been brought back to Ukraine so far.

In March, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's official overseeing the abduction of children.

​​In its statement, the ICC writes that it believes Putin "bears individual criminal responsibility" as the leader of Russia for the crimes committed against Ukrainian children.

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