Ukraine’s defence minister is expected in Paris today to meet President Emmanuel Macron amid a debate among Kyiv’s allies over whether to provide fighter jets for its war against Russia, after US President Joe Biden ruled out giving F-16s.
Ukraine planned to push for Western fourth-generation fighters like F-16s after securing supplies of main battle tanks last week, an adviser to Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Friday.
Asked at the White House yesterday if the United States would provide F-16s, Mr Biden told reporters: “No.”
But France and Poland appear to be willing to entertain any such request from Ukraine, with Mr Macron telling reporters in The Hague that “by definition, nothing is excluded” when it comes to military assistance.
In remarks carried on French television before Mr Biden spoke in Washington, Mr Macron stressed any such move would depend on several factors including the need to avoid escalation and assurances that the aircraft would not “touch Russian soil.”
He said Mr Reznikov would also meet his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu in Paris today.
In Poland yesterday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also did not rule out a possible supply of F-16s to neighbouring Ukraine, in response to a question from a reporter before Mr Biden spoke.
Mr Morawiecki said in remarks posted on his website that any such transfer would take place “in complete coordination” with NATO countries.
Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukraine president’s office, noted “positive signals” from Poland and said France “does not exclude” such a move in separate posts on his Telegram channel.
Meanwhile NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Japan thanked Tokyo for the “planes and the cargo capabilities” it is providing Ukraine.
A day earlier in South Korea he urged Seoul to increase its military support to Ukraine.
Mr Biden’s comment came shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had begun exacting its revenge for Ukraine’s resistance to its invasion with relentless attacks in the east, where it appeared to be making incremental gains. (RTE)