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UK, Germany pressure US to decide on F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine

Leaders from the United Kingdom and Germany on Wednesday said the U.S. needs to make a decision on warplanes for Ukraine as the war with Russia drags on.

When pressed by reporters on why top NATO allies have not sent Ukraine F-16s, instead opting to allow allies like Poland to send Soviet era-MiG-29 fighter jets, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said ultimately the decision is “up to the White House.”

Standing alongside his British counterpart, Ben Wallace, Pistorius said that the highly coveted F-16s that Kyiv has long asked for are U.S.-made and therefore Washington has “to decide whether the F-16 fighter planes can be delivered,” reported German news outlet DW.

UK Germany

Boris Pistorius, German Minister of Defense, right, and his British counterpart Ben Wallace, make a statement after their meeting at the German Ministry of Defense, in Berlin, Wednesday May 17, 2023.  (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)

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Zelenskyy Sunak

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R) at the Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence in Aylesbury, United Kingdom on May 15, 2023.  (Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Though London has said it will not send warplanes to Ukraine’s front lines, it has committed to training Ukrainians up on the more advanced aerial equipment. 

“It’s up to the White House to decide if it wants to release that technology,” Wallace told reporters Wednesday, noting that the U.K. does not have F-16s and was not considering sending planes from its Typhoon fleet, reported DW.  “We don’t have F-16 pilots, but we can help the pipeline.”

The German defense minister’s comments Wednesday were reminiscent of a stance Berlin took in January when it said it would not agree to send tanks to Kyiv unless the U.S. did as well, citing concerns over escalating the war.

The U.S. eventually agreed to send its Abrams M1 tanks in a move to push Germany to send its sorely needed Leopard 2 tanks, despite previously cited concerns over maintenance and cost upkeep on the advanced U.S. made tanks.  

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