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Biden Must Send F-16s to Ukraine Now - by Con Coughlin for The Gatestone Institute - 07.03.23

There is... a hollow ring to Biden's rousing rhetoric when it is matched against the practical support his administration is actually prepared to give the Ukrainians, especially their pleas to be supplied with American fighter jets.


With the Ukrainian forces under intense pressure from their adversaries, Kyiv is understandably desperate to secure fresh supplies of weaponry from its Western allies. Moreover, under the terms of the UN Charter, Ukraine is perfectly entitled to acquire weaponry from friendly states to defend its sovereign integrity against outside aggression.


There is nothing wrong, per se, with providing Ukraine with Western warplanes, so long as they are flown by Ukrainian pilots.


Biden's reluctance to provide Ukraine with the military equipment it needs to prevail on the battlefield is consistent with the foot-dragging approach he has adopted since the start of the conflict.


Now the Biden administration finds itself accused of reneging on its pledge to support the Ukrainian war effort by refusing to supply F-16 fighter aircraft, even though there are many compelling military reasons for doing so.


The Biden Administration's concerns about Russia's nuclear arsenal are nothing more than a red herring , one the White House is using to conceal its reluctance to give the Ukrainians the backing they need to prevail on the battlefield. This reluctance, moreover, no doubt explains Beijing's deciding to provide military support to Moscow, a move that could certainly turn the tide of the conflict in Moscow's favour.


China's rulers appear to have reached the conclusion that, as Biden's support for Ukraine lacks conviction, no one is going to stand in the way of Beijing providing military support to Moscow.


Biden's half-hearted approach to the Ukraine conflict sends entirely the wrong signal to other autocratic regimes such as China. If Ukraine loses this war, it will be a strategic disaster for the West of far greater proportions than the Afghanistan fiasco.


Such a move would send a strong signal to the Kremlin and other autocratic states such as China that the West is totally committed to fighting for the cause of freedom.


US President Joe Biden's reluctance to provide Ukraine with the military equipment it needs to prevail on the battlefield is consistent with the foot-dragging approach he has adopted since the start of the conflict. He opposed Ukraine's pleas to be supplied with Western battle tanks, only to make an embarrassing u-turn after Poland and other European nations pledged to provide tanks.


President Joe Biden's reluctance to supply Ukraine with the US warplanes it desperately needs raises serious questions about his claims that he wants Kyiv to emerge victorious in its brutal war for survival against Russia.


During his surprise visit to Kyiv in late February to mark the first anniversary of the Ukraine conflict, Biden worked hard to give the impression that he was firmly backing the Ukrainian cause.


"One year later, Kyiv stands," Biden declared after meeting Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Mariinsky Palace. Jabbing his finger for emphasis on his podium, against a backdrop of three flags from each country, the president continued: "And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you."


Biden made similar declarations of support during his subsequent visit to Poland, a country that, in stark contrast to Biden's hesitant approach, has been unstinting in its support for the Ukrainian cause since Putin launched his unprovoked invasion on February 24 last year. Speaking against the imposing backdrop of Warsaw's Royal Castle, Biden insisted that the US and its allies "will not waver" in supporting the Ukrainians.


There is, though, a hollow ring to Biden's rousing rhetoric when it is matched against the practical support his administration is actually prepared to give the Ukrainians, especially their pleas to be supplied with American fighter jets.


With the Russians widely reported to be planning a new spring offensive, the Ukrainians are desperate for weaponry that will both enable them to hold off the Russians and launch their own counter-offensive to liberate Ukrainian territory from Russian occupation.


Despite the many pledges of support he made during his tour of eastern Europe, Biden is proving remarkably reluctant to respond positively to the Ukrainians' request. Commenting on Ukraine's request for US F-16 fighters, Biden said he had ruled out "for now" sending the advanced jets.


Biden's reluctance to provide Ukraine with the military equipment it needs to prevail on the battlefield is consistent with the foot-dragging approach he has adopted since the start of the conflict. When hostilities first commenced, he resisted providing Ukraine with the long-range missiles it needed to disrupt the Russian advance, only to be reluctantly persuaded to approve the delivery of the long-range HIMARS that have resulted in a tangible improvement in the Ukrainian war effort.


More recently he opposed Ukraine's pleas to be supplied with Western battle tanks, only to be forced into making an embarrassing u-turn after Poland and other European nations pledged to provide tanks of their own.



Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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Pictured: A Ukrainian Army officer speaks to the media following a meeting with instructors who train Ukrainian soldiers on Leopard tanks, at the Swietoszow Military Base in Poland on February 13, 2023. (Photo by Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)



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