President Joe Biden announced on Monday that the United States would not give Ukraine the F-16 fighter fighters it has requested in its conflict with Russia. This came after Russian forces claimed several small victories in the country’s east.
After acquiring a supply of main battle tanks last week, Ukraine intended to press for Western fourth-generation fighter fighters like the F-16, a defence minister’s advisor said on Friday. A spokesman for the Ukrainian air force estimated that training for such fighter jets would take roughly six months.
When asked if the US would provide the jets, Biden responded “No” to reporters at the White House.
The brief conversation followed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy‘s statement that Russia has started attacking Ukraine nonstop in the east as retaliation for Ukraine’s opposition to its invasion.
Zelenskiy has been warning for weeks that after over two months of virtual stalemate along the front line that spans the south and east, Moscow intends to intensify its assault on Ukraine.
Last week, Germany and the United States revealed intentions to send heavy tanks to Ukraine, breaking weeks of diplomatic gridlock.
According to Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Oleksiy Reznikov, the defence minister, who spoke to Reuters on Friday, the fighter jets will now be the next major obstacle.
Denis Pushilin, the administrator of Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province, claimed that Russian troops had established a foothold in Vuhledar, a coal mining town whose ruins have served as a Ukrainian stronghold since the war’s inception. However, there was no indication of a wider new Russian offensive.
Pushilin reported that Ukrainian forces continued sending reinforcements to the three towns of Bakhmut, Maryinka, and Vuhledar, located west of the city of Donetsk and run from north to south. He was quoted by the Russian state news agency TASS as stating that although the advances were “not clear-cut, that is, here there is a combat for literally every meter,” Russian soldiers were moving forward there.
Yan Gagin, Pushilin’s advisor, reported that the Russian mercenary force Wagner fighters had partially taken control of a supply corridor heading to Bakhmut. This city has been the focus of Moscow for months.
The leader of Wagner said that his troops had taken control of Blahodatne, a village close to Bakhmut, the day before.
Blahodatne and Vuhledar were allegedly the targets of assaults, but Reuters was unable to independently confirm this. However, the reported battlegrounds showed definite, albeit incremental, Russian successes.