Polish officials said Monday that Warsaw is willing to send US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine but only in coordination with NATO.
“We will act in full coordination here,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said. Since the US and Germany announced last week that Ukraine would be receiving Abrams and Leopard tanks, Ukrainian officials have been demanding Western-made fighter jets as the next escalation of military aid.
When asked on Monday if the US would be sending F-16s to Ukraine, President Biden simply replied, “No.” But US officials previously said they wouldn’t provide Kyiv with M1 Abrams tanks and other equipment that Washington ultimately sent.
Ukrainian officials appear confident that they will receive F-16s or some other kind of fighter jet. A Ukrainian Air Force spokesman said work was being done to prepare Ukraine’s airfields for advanced Western-made fighter jets.
In order to send F-16s, Poland needs the approval of the US under export rules. The Netherlands has also signaled that it might be willing to send Ukraine F-16s, with the Dutch foreign minister saying his country would have an “open mind” if asked to make the transfer.
So far, there’s no sign that US approval of the weapons transfer is imminent, but POLITICO reported over the weekend that the idea of sending the F-16s is gaining steam in the Pentagon. Sending fighter jets would risk provoking Moscow, but the US is less concerned about escalation and the chances of Moscow using nuclear weapons than earlier in the war, even though the risk still clearly exists.