Kiev's allies will discuss Ukrainian F-16 training on Thursday, the Pentagon said

Kiev's allies will discuss Ukrainian F-16 training on Thursday, the Pentagon said

Kiev's allies to discuss Ukrainian F-16 training on Thursday, Pentagon says

American fighter plane F-16.

Washington – The group of countries providing military aid to Ukraine has another meeting on the agenda on Thursday, the topic of which will be the training of Ukrainian pilots on American F-16 fighter jets. This was announced by a spokesman for the US Department of Defense on Tuesday evening. The discussion follows Washington's decision to allow European allies to supply these aircraft to Ukraine.

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Allies of Kyiv in the format of the so-called contact defense group last held talks in April in Ramstein, Germany. More than 50 countries are represented in the group, led by the USA, which provide Ukrainians with military equipment. Thursday's meeting will take place remotely.

“I would expect ground-based air defense to continue to be a priority in the discussion, as well as munitions,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said at a news conference. “And there will also be a discussion about F-16 training,” he added.

At the same time, the US Department of Defense reported that Minister Lloyd Austin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Reznikov, spoke on the phone about the upcoming discussion on the continuation of military aid. According to a statement on the call, Thursday's meeting will focus on boosting the maneuverability of Ukraine's armored forces and strengthening “Ukraine's air defenses”. could wait. The key step was the weekend announcement by Washington, without whose consent Ukraine cannot receive the F-16 aircraft. In addition to the decision not to block supplies, the American government also announced its intention to support the training of Ukrainian pilots.

However, no country has yet promised fighter jets to Ukraine, and training has not yet begun, according to the Pentagon, despite claims to the contrary by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday. A group of European countries, including Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands, plans to ensure the delivery of aircraft to Ukraine, while Germany, which does not have F-16 machines, is considering participating in the initiative. For example, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the weekend announced the start of training for Ukrainian pilots during the summer.

Western countries were previously reluctant to provide modern fighter jets, arguing the current needs of the Ukrainian army or the length of training for Ukrainian pilots. However, according to a leaked US Air Force assessment from the beginning of the year, only four months could be enough to train the F-16.

Pentagon spokesman Ryder said of the development of the US position that US aid has so far focused on supplies of material with an immediate benefit for Ukrainians on the battlefield, while the issue of fighter jets concerns “a long-term commitment to Ukraine”. According to Ryder, the US hopes that the training of Ukrainian pilots will begin within “weeks or months”. However, he did not specify whether Kyiv will receive the F-16s by the end of the year.