US President Joe Biden said on Monday that he would not send US warplanes to Ukraine, even as the US increased military aid in the form of artillery and tanks.
“No,” Biden said when asked by a reporter if he would send F16 jets to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sought fighter jets to sustain his war effort against Russia. While Biden has offered help in other areas, he has consistently said flights are off the table.
Last week, for example, Biden announced the delivery of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, despite top US officials previously saying the heavy vehicles were unsuitable for the country’s military.
Speaking on the South Lawn of the White House, Biden said he was unsure whether he would travel to Europe next month for the first anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine.
In response to a separate question, Biden said he planned to visit Poland, but did not know when.
CNN reported last week that the White House was exploring the possibility of Biden visiting Europe to mark 12 months since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Some background: Ukrainian leaders have renewed requests for Western fighter jets. “I sent a wish list card to Santa last year and also sent fighter jets [were] Included in this wish list,” Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told CNN last week.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged on Friday that Zelensky had asked for the fighter jets. “We’re constantly talking to the Ukrainians about their needs and we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to meet them — and if we can’t, some of our allies and partners can,” Kirby said.