The Pentagon assured this Tuesday that the training of Ukrainian pilots in handling the F16 fighters has not yet begun, and acknowledged that their use by the Ukrainian military would not be immediate and therefore would not serve for short-term retaliation.
A US Department of Defense spokesman, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, explained that the use of F16s “would not be relevant” in a short-term Ukrainian counteroffensive because their delivery is part of a “long-term commitment” to Ukraine.
In addition, he stressed that the training of Ukrainian pilots to deal with these fighters has not yet begun.
“I am not aware that any training has begun,” said Ryder, who explained that details of this training were being finalized and confirmed that it would take place in various European countries outside of Ukraine.
Ryder thus contradicted the words of the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, who assured this Tuesday that training had begun.
On the other hand, in response to questions from journalists, the brigadier general recalled that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised US President Joe Biden that the use of these aircraft would be limited to Ukrainian territory (and not to attack Russia).
Ryder did not want to give a timetable for the delivery of the planes, the start of the formation or the locations from where this would be done.
He insisted that the United States “work closely” with its allies to ensure that Ukrainian pilots are trained in operating the F-16 and that such training, which will last for months, will continue in the coming weeks. Will start in
He justified the United States’ decision to support this delivery and training – which had previously been rejected – because that country, he stressed, is “committed” to helping Ukraine for as long as necessary.
He further explained that since the last meeting of the Contact Group on Aid to Ukraine, the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd AustinFor the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine, several requests have been received from various countries for permission to undergo the above training.
The secretary studied the request, he said, and after a process of national security analysis decided to support the initiative to help Ukraine “with its long-term defense needs.”
But with regard to when the training would begin, which countries would supply the planes and when, he stressed that he would continue to negotiate with allies to finalize the details of the whole process.
In his analysis of the situation in Ukraine and two days after the capture of Bakhmut, the brigadier general assured that the Russian army had paid a “high price” in life and military capability for the capture of the city, and stressed that Defense Ukrainian power in its surrounding areas “is still very strong.
New meeting of contact group
The Contact Group for the Defense of Ukraine, made up of defense officials from all countries that have provided military assistance to the country since the start of the Russian invasion, will meet again this Thursday.
Ryder further said that the group’s meeting would begin, as usual, with the intervention of Ukraine to report on the country’s current situation and conflict and explain its most urgent needs, followed by the contributions that countries could make. There has been discussion and there will certainly be “discussion” about F-16 training.
On the other hand, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed that Austin spoke with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov this morning about the priorities that will be discussed at the said meeting on Thursday.