The United States has pledged to help fast-track the delivery of advanced F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine after Kyiv complained about delivery delays.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has written to Denmark and the Netherlands to vow his country’s “full support” for the forthcoming jet deliveries, which are set to be spearheaded by both nations.
According to Blinken, Washington will quickly approve requests from both countries to transfer the US-made aircraft to Ukraine as soon as the country has pilots to fly them.
“It remains critical that Ukraine is able to defend itself against ongoing Russian aggression and violation of its sovereignty,” he added in the letter, which has apparently been seen by Reuters.
Ukraine has given up on being able to deploy American advanced F-16 fighter jets this year, a spokesman for the country’s air force has said. https://t.co/yP765Cb1r1
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 17, 2023
The sudden shift on the proposed transfers comes shortly after members of Ukraine’s military complained about the delays in obtaining the fighter jets.
According to Ukrainian air force official Yuriy Ihnat, the country has now lost hope that they will be able to operate the F-16s before 2024.
This is despite initial “big hopes” that the planes would be used this year to help shield Ukraine “from Russia’s missiles and drones terrorism”.
The absence of F-16s from Ukraine’s arsenal has also been cited as a reason for the relatively poor performance of the country’s military during its latest offensive against Russia, with the lack of air support making it harder for the Eastern European country to use NATO-style combined-arms tactics.
Ukraine is now looking to bolster its current assault with additional troops, with efforts now being made to funnel more military-aged youths into the armed forces.
A new recruitment drive by Kyiv is said to focus on breaking down fears of being drafted into the army, something officials say needs to be “overcome” as part of Ukraine’s bid to fight back against Russia’s invasion forces.
“We’re all living people and we all overcome this fear in order to win,” deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said of the new campaign.
Part of the push reportedly involves veterans of the conflict discussing their own fears, as well as how they have been able to put those fears aside to better pursue victory.
The former commander of Poland’s special forces has said Ukraine has not been able to launch a counteroffensive and has only engaged in skirmishes in a limited number of locations. https://t.co/LLYbpFDrTz
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) July 31, 2023