The Pentagon warned that the use of the F-16 by Ukraine will not be immediate

Two F-16s from the Romanian Air Force take part in a NATO air patrol in Lithuanian airspace, on May 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

He Pentagon assured this Tuesday that the training of Ukrainian pilots in the handling of F16 fighter jets has not started yet, and considered that its use by Ukrainian forces will not be immediate and therefore it will not serve for the counteroffensive in the short term.

The spokesman for the US Department of Defense, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, explained that the use of the F16s “will not be relevant” in the near-term Ukrainian counteroffensive because their delivery is part of the “long-term commitment” to Ukraine.

In addition, he stressed that the training of Ukrainian pilots on the handling of such fighters has not yet begun.

“I am not aware that any training has started,” said Ryder, who explained that the details for this training are being finalized and confirmed that it will be done in different European countries, outside of Ukraine.

Ryder thus contradicted the words of the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrellwho this same Tuesday had assured that said training has begun.

On the other hand, the brigadier general recalled, to questions from journalists, that the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelensky, has promised to the US president, Joe Biden, that the use of these planes will be limited to Ukrainian territory (and not for attack Russia).

Ryder did not want to give any timetable on the delivery of the planes, the start of the formation or the locations from where it will be done.

He did insist that the United States “work closely” with its allies to make sure Ukrainian pilots are trained in handling F-16s and that said training, which will last for months, begin in the coming weeks.

US Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over Osan Air Base during a combined exercise with South Korea in Pyeongtaek on December 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)
US Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over Osan Air Base during a combined exercise with South Korea in Pyeongtaek on December 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File) (Ahn Young -joon/)

He justified the decision of the United States to support this delivery and the training -which was previously ruled out- because this country, he stressed, has “committed” to help Ukraine for as long as necessary.

He further explained that since the last meeting of the contact group on assistance to Ukraine, the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austinhas received several requests from different countries asking for permission to undertake the aforementioned training for the delivery of the F-16s to Ukraine.

The secretary, he added, studied the petition and after a national security analysis process, it was decided to support this initiative to help Ukraine “in its long-term defense needs”.

But regarding when the training will begin, which countries will deliver the planes and when they will do so, he insisted that they continue to talk with the allies to finalize the details of the entire process.

In his analysis of the situation in Ukraine and two days after the taking of Bakhmutthe brigadier general assured that the Russian forces have paid “a high price” in lives and military capacity to take over this city, and stressed that the Ukrainian defense in the areas that surround it “remains very strong”.

The Contact Group for the Defense of Ukraine, made up of the defense officials of all the countries that have given military aid to this country since the start of the Russian invasion, will meet again this Thursday.

Ryder advanced that the meeting of the group, as always, will begin with the intervention of Ukraine reporting on the current situation of the country and the conflict and explaining what its most urgent needs are, after which the contributions that the countries can give will be discussed and there will be sure a “discussion” about F-16 training.

On the other hand, the Pentagon spokesman confirmed that Austin spoke this morning with the Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, about the priorities that will be discussed on Thursday at the aforementioned meeting.

(With information from EFE)

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