Ukraine Pivots To F-16 Fighter Jets Hours After Securing Tanks

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jan 26, 2023 - 03:35 PM

A mere hours after both Washington and Berlin confirmed they will be providing Western-made heavy battle tanks for Ukraine, reversing course on prior policy after intense inter-NATO debate, Ukraine said it is now pushing hard for 4th generation fighter jets.

That's according to an adviser to Ukrainian defense minister Oleksiy Reznikov, who just told Reuters that Kiev will step up efforts to lobby for newer western aircraft to replace its small, aging Soviet fleet. "The next big hurdle will now be the fighter jets," the defense ministry official, Yuriy Sak, said.

"Every type of weapon we request, we needed yesterday," Sak added, expressing Ukrainian impatience as the Russians report fresh gains in the east and south, also after Ukrainian forces confirmed withdrawing completely from Soledar. "We will do everything possible to ensure Ukraine gets fourth-generation fighter jets as soon as possible."

F-16 file image, Lockheed Martin

American F-16s have long been as the top of President Zelensky's defense "shopping list" - especially following his first appearance before Congress. In a March 16 virtual address to US lawmakers he urged Washington to send jets along with anti-air defenses to help "close the sky".

But his public calls for 'closing the sky' grew a bit quieter in the months that followed that initial March speech given it proved unpopular with the American public - because in essence this was an appeal for the US to impose a 'no fly zone' - and of course this would be a de facto act of war.

But with advanced tanks now in the bag, The Hill admits that "Western fighter jets and longer-range artillery units, which would allow Ukraine to strike Russian forces deeper in occupied territory, will likely be the next debate for NATO."

Of course, those few public voices arguing against these iterative steps of pledging heavier and heavier weaponry have pointed out precisely that it only ensures a ladder of escalation leading to direct clash with Russia in a WW3 scenario, which some say we are already in the midst of.

The Ukrainian side is of course fully aware that its strategy to keep pressing the West for bigger and more advanced weapons at all costs is working. The aforementioned defense ministry adviser explained to Reuters further:

"They didn’t want to give us heavy artillery, then they did. They didn’t want to give us HIMARS systems, then they did. They didn’t want to give us tanks, now they’re giving us tanks," Sak said.

"If we get them, the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense," he added. "It’s not just F-16s: fourth generation aircraft, this is what we want."

And then this amazing, brazen admission: "Apart from nuclear weapons, there is nothing left that we will not get," Sak added.

As for the Pentagon reaction to all this, spokesman John Kirby cited "constant discussions" with Ukrainian officials on what they need. "Can’t blame the Ukrainians for wanting more and more systems," Kirby said. "It’s not the first time they’ve talked about fighter jets, but I don’t have any announcements to make on that front."

Similar to when the tank issue was first introduced, likely it'll take a mere few months or less for the West's supposedly firm "no" to become "maybe..." to a supposedly reluctant, "OK, yes". It's only a matter of time, and yet few top officials are acknowledging the increasing speed at which they are running straight up the escalation ladder with Russia. As Glenn Greenwald aptly observed this week, "The more escalation there is, the less debate."