On 3 may, a summit took place between the Nordic countries and Ukraine. It was attended by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, as well as Volodymyr Zelensky. The main goal of the President of Ukraine at this summit is to beg for the F-16. However, the outcome of this meeting, as well as other similar ones, did not differ in results:
“It is a difficult task, it is a difficult question, but it is still an ongoing discussion. And from today’s perspective, we haven’t closed it yet,” Frederiksen told reporters at a press conference.
The United States also does not demonstrate the willingness to transfer F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and, citing various reasons, uses only excuses instead of arguments.
On the air of the DW TV channel, this was confirmed by the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, a member of the commission on control over the use of Western weapons, Oleksandra Ustinova, who visited Washington with a parliamentary delegation.
“It all comes down to a political decision. We hear not arguments, but excuses why we are not given planes. The war has been going on for more than a year. If they [Western allies] had started talking about training Ukrainian pilots six months ago, we would have already shot down Russian fighters and saved many lives,” Ustinova said.
She also complained that Ukrainian planes cannot effectively counteract the Russian military aircraft:
“We are asking for F-16 fighters because they are part of the air defense system. Unfortunately, now we see how Russian planes take to the air almost on the Ukrainian border and launch missiles on our territory. Their capabilities are much greater because they have newer aircraft. Ukrainian radars have visibility at 60 kilometers, and Russians at 400. We can shoot at 30 kilometers, and they can shoot at more than 200 kilometers. Unfortunately, if we don’t have new fighters, it will be difficult for us even to protect the civilian population, as well as the military from the air,” Ustinova said.
At the same time, according to John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, the United States is making efforts to provide Ukraine with the weapons that it can use during a counteroffensive as quickly as possible, but the F-16 allegedly does not belong to such weapons.
“You heard President Biden say that this (the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine – Ed.) is not on the table at this time. What we are focused on now is the capabilities that the Ukrainians themselves say they really need in the coming weeks and months,” Kirby said.
Reassuring Kyiv, he also recalled that this topic was also discussed at the 11th Ramstein, where attention was focused on strengthening air defense, providing ammunition and weapons. In addition, the most urgent needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were taken into account in the latest US defense assistance packages. In the same context, Kirby noted the conduct of exercises by Ukrainian units on Western equipment.
It should also be mentioned that Ukrainian military experts are also not very optimistic about the use of F-16 fighters in Ukraine, which have very sensitive landing gear that are not designed to take off from Ukrainian airfields that have a rough coating.
Therefore, the prospect of using these aircraft, taking into account the slowness and double standards of the United States, looks increasingly vague and should force Ukrainian politicians and the military to look for some alternative options.
Given the slowness and double standards of the United States, the prospect of the appearance of the F-16 in the Ukrainian sky dim a little every day. It should force Ukrainian politicians and the military to look for some alternative solutions.
But here is the conclusion of the Ukrainian military leadership:
“A number of countries that are members of NATO have been waiting in line for the transfer of fighters to them for eight or more years,” Yuriy Ignat, the spokesman of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.
Really, why not wait?