US President Joe Biden said Monday he wouldn’t send American fighter jets to Ukraine, even as the United States ramps up military assistance in the form of artillery and tanks.
“No,” Biden said when asked by a reporter whether he would send F16 jets to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sought fighter jets to help sustain his war effort against Russia. Biden has consistently said the planes aren’t on the table, even as he has given aid in other areas.
Last week, for example, Biden announced he would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, despite top US officials saying previously the heavy-duty vehicles were a poor fit for the country’s military.
Speaking on the White House South Lawn, Biden also said he wasn’t sure whether he would visit Europe next month for the first anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine.
In response to a separate question, Biden said he was planning to visit Poland, but wasn’t sure when.
CNN reported last week the White House was exploring the possibility of a Biden visit to Europe to mark 12 months since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Some background: Ukrainian leaders have renewed their appeals for Western fighter jets. “I sent a wish list card to Santa Claus last year, and fighter jets also [were] including in this wish list,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told CNN last week.
US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby acknowledged Friday that Zelensky had asked for fighter jets. “We are constantly talking to the Ukrainians about their needs, and want to make sure that we’re doing the best we can to meet them — and if we can’t, that some of our allies and partners can,” Kirby said.