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Biden green lights F-16 shipments to Ukraine

By Savannah Hamilton
|
May 21, 2023

During last week’s G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, President Joe Biden finally gave his approval for allowing the use of American F-16 jets by Ukraine. The decision is expected to be a game changer in the ongoing war and could turn things in Ukraine’s favor.

U.S. and Ukraine European allies have long been under pressure to provide Ukraine with heavier weapons but have been hesitant until now.

Ukraine has so far been using Soviet-era MiG fighters, which are older and far less superior to Russia’s advanced fleet. Despite this, Russia has yet to conquest Ukrainian skies.

F-16s are considered to be some of the best fighter jets in the world. They are especially known for being able to handle all weather conditions and having great manoeuvrability. They are also considered “four or five times” more effective than their Soviet counterpart.

This is why Zelenskyy has long had F-16s on his wish list, claiming it would give his military an advantage over Russia’s forces.

Not So Fast

Despite agreeing to help, Biden said that the U.S. would not be providing the jets to Ukraine directly. Rather, other European allies that have the F-16 in supply would be able to loan them with special approval.

Because of the “sensitive U.S. technology” onboard, each transfer would need to be signed off on individually. 

F-16s are currently possessed by several European countries including the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland and Norway.

Biden also said that the U.S. would not rush to decide how many jets will be provided and by whom, in order to avoid triggering Russia further. It was said that the final decision could be made only months from now.

Training Ukraine’s military for the F-16s, however, is expected to begin in the next few weeks. No details have yet been announced on how or where this training will take place.

More Sanctions

In addition to agreeing to provide F-16s to Ukraine, G7 leaders have also added additional sanctions against Russia.

The U.K., for example, declared a ban on the import of Russian diamonds, copper, aluminium, and nickel. Belgium also said it would consider a ban on Russian diamonds, but would not implement it until further down the line.

The U.S., meanwhile, has restricted access to their exports for 70 Russian and international companies that are connected to the ex-Soviet country. In addition, 300 additional sanctions were placed “against individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft.”

A U.S. official explained, “These will go after circumvention. These will go out for financial facilitators, as well as future energy and extractive capabilities of Russia and other actors helping to support the war.”

The Russo-Ukranian war is now well into its second year and does not appear to be ending any time soon. It is not known how these new sanctions will impact the situation, if at all.

Both Europe and the U.S., however, continue to stand behind Ukraine.

“Our support for Ukraine will not waiver,” a statement released by G7 read, adding that the leaders vow “to stand together against Russia's illegal, unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet issued any response to the developments at the G7 summit.