The US government will not block allied countries from sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine if they decide to do so, multiple news outlets reported on Friday, citing American officials.
Sources cited by the Washington Post, CNN, NBC and other media said the White House is prepared to allow F-16 shipments after months of Ukrainian requests for the aircraft, which is being used by more than two dozen nations.
A senior White House official told NBC that Washington had already informed its partners about the decision.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan on Saturday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that “in the coming months, we will work with our allies to determine when the planes will be delivered, who will be delivering them, and how many.”
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced earlier that London would back the creation of an “international coalition” to supply the F-16s and other aircraft to Kiev. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky met with the PM this week and lobbied for Western fighter jets, insisting they are needed for Kiev’s much-touted counteroffensive.
The US military is currently training Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16s. However, Washington has so far declined to provide its own warplanes to Kiev.
Moscow has warned against supplying Kiev with weapons, arguing that it will only prolong the fighting and do little to deter its military objectives. The Kremlin says that military support to Ukraine, which includes the training of troops and sharing of intelligence, makes Western countries de facto direct parties in the conflict.