Will the U.S. send F-16s directly to Ukraine? No final decision yet, Sullivan says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has long pleaded with Western allies to send their modern fighter jets, but the U.S. has repeatedly rebuffed those requests. Instead, the U.S. has sent tanks, artillery and ammunition.

The reason, Sullivan said, was because fighter jets were not “critical” for the anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. But conditions are evolving.

“The United States has mobilized an exceptional effort to deliver on time and in full everything Ukraine needs to launch this counteroffensive,” Sullivan said. “Now that we’ve done that, we can look forward to the long-term capacity of Ukraine to be able to defend itself and deter Russian aggression. Fourth-generation fighter aircraft, Western fighter aircraft, F-16s are relevant to that fight.”

On Friday, Zelenskyy applauded the U.S. move on Twitter.

“I welcome the historic decision of the United States and @POTUS to support an international fighter jet coalition,” Zelenskyy wrote. “This will greatly enhance our army in the sky. I count on discussing the practical implementation of this decision at the #G7 summit in Hiroshima.”