Biden tells G7 that the United States will support sending fighter jets to Ukraine

President Joe Biden has told G7 leaders that the United States would support providing fighter jets, including American-made F-16 jets, senior administration officials said.

Mr Biden is currently in Japan for a G7 summit, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calling the decision one that would “greatly enhance our army in the sky.”

Ukrainian officials had said they needed up to 200 jets to push back against Russia’s aggression, which is thought to be five to six times the size of Ukraine’s.

The Biden administration’s decision means that other countries can now export their F-16 jets since the United States must legally approve if its allies want to re-export equipment they purchased.

The administration official said that the United States would “support a joint effort with our allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16s, to further strengthen and improve the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force.”

“As the training takes place over the coming months, our coalition of countries participating in this effort will decide when to actually provide jets, how many we will provide, and who will provide them,” the official said.

The United States has previously hesitated to provide Ukraine with fighter jets after Russia invaded the nation early last year.

“The UK will work together with the USA and the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to get Ukraine the combat air capability it needs,” United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted. He added that the UK would set up a flight school to train Ukrainian pilots.

Mr Zelensky has stressed the need for F-16 jets, which can travel at twice the speed of sound and can engage with targets both in the air and on the ground.

But some allies have worried that sending jets to Ukraine would be seen as escalating the war and risking direct conflict with Russia.