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News ID: 111987
Publish Date : 31 January 2023 - 21:38

WASHINGTON (AFP/Reuters) -- President Joe Biden said the United States would not provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, as Kyiv expands the list of weaponry it needs to be better able to drive Russia forces from its territories.
Fighting continued at key points along the long front as Russian forces sought to expand their hold on territory in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.
The Kremlin-appointed Donetsk leader, Denis Pushilin, claimed Russian forces were advancing near Vugledar, a strategically valuable town southwest of Donetsk city.
But Kyiv rejected the claim, while conceding that the fighting there was tough.
At the White House, Biden said he was opposed to supplying American fighter jets to Ukraine.
“No,” he said when asked by reporters at the White House if he was in favor of sending F-16s or others, now that the U.S., Germany and other countries have agreed to boost the Ukrainian arsenal by providing heavy battle tanks.
But European leaders said they were open to the idea, even if Ukraine has not yet formally requested advanced fighter aircraft from its allies for the war.
Analysts believe both Ukraine and Russia are gearing up for significant offensive movements in the coming months and Western aircraft could increase Kyiv’s strength, with its own air force significantly depleted by 11 months of war.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he would not rule out giving fighter aircraft to Ukraine but warned against the risk of escalation in the conflict.
Macron had talks with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has already floated the idea of sending Dutch F-16s to Ukraine. “Nothing is excluded in principle,” Macron said.
Any arms delivery “must not weaken the capacity of the French armed forces,” he said, adding that France would have to be confident that the weapons would not be used to strike inside Russia, which could escalate the war.
“There is no taboo but it would be a big step,” said Rutte.
With Ukraine’s supplies of artillery munitions heavily depleted, France and Australia announced a deal to jointly produce 155 mm shells for Kyiv’s forces.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign ministry criticized Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday for saying Crimea would never return to Ukrainian control, describing his comment as “unacceptable.”
In remarks on Monday detailing his objection to Zagreb providing military aid to Kyiv, Milanovic said it was “clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine”.

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