U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he would not send U.S. fighter jets to Ukraine, even with increased U.S. military aid in the form of artillery and tanks.
“No,” Biden said when asked by reporters if he would send F-16s to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been seeking fighter jets to help sustain his war effort against Russia. Biden has consistently said that airplanes are off the table, even as he has provided aid in other areas.
Last week, for example, Biden announced he would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, even though senior U.S. officials had previously said the heavy vehicles were unsuitable for the country’s military.
In remarks on the South Lawn of the White House, Biden also said he was not sure whether he would visit Europe next month to mark the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
In response to another question, Biden said he planned to visit Poland but was unsure when.
CNN reported last week that the White House was exploring the possibility of Biden visiting Europe to commemorate the 12-month-old Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Some background: Ukrainian leaders renewed calls to buy Western fighter jets. “Last year I sent Santa a wish list card, and fighters [were] Included in this wish list,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told CNN last week.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged on Friday that Zelensky had asked for the fighter jets. “We’ve been talking to the Ukrainians about their needs and want to make sure we’re doing our best to accommodate them — and if we can’t, some of our allies and partners can,” Kirby said.