President Joe Biden told G7 leaders that the United States would support a coordinated effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots in the use of fighter jets, including the F-16. The White House confirms this after earlier reports on the matter appeared in the US media.
The exercise is expected to take place entirely in Europe. However, U.S. personnel will participate in exercises with allies in Europe. This is expected to take several months.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who will attend the G7 summit in Japan, called the decision “historic” on Twitter. Zelensky has repeatedly urged his Western allies to supply fighter jets.
US participation in a possible exercise does not mean that the US has already decided to supply fighter jets to Ukraine. “As the exercise takes place over the next few months, the coalition of countries participating in this initiative will decide whether we will actually provide aircraft, how many and who will provide them,” the official told CNN.
In March, the U.S. stationed two Ukrainian pilots at a military base in Tucson, Arizona, to evaluate their skills using flight simulators to assess how long it would take them to learn how to fly various U.S. military aircraft, including the F-16. The US Congress has earmarked money for such training in the 2023 budget.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was pleased with the result. “Details will be worked out in the coming weeks,” Rutte said on Twitter.
Rutte writes that his British, Danish and Belgian counterparts also ‘welcome’ news from the US. ‘Ukraine can continue to count on the unwavering support of the Netherlands and its international partners.’
Defense Minister Gajsa Ollongren agrees with Rutte’s words. The conditions are enforced in conjunction with ‘our closest allies’ Denmark, Belgium and the United Kingdom. “We are ready to support Ukraine in this,” Ollongren tweeted.
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