National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan would not rule out the possibility of sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in the future during an interview Sunday.
Sullivan did the Sunday show rounds this week to discuss the war in Ukraine, the possibility of China sending lethal aid to Russia and a new report indicating that the Department of Energy believes COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab. On the question of F-16’s for Ukraine, Sullivan said it is not being considered now, but remained non-committal for the future.
“Every phase of this war, the president has tried to make sure that the Ukrainian military gets what they need,” Sullivan said to ABC News’ Martha Raddatz. “In this phase, the critical element is ground maneuver capability… he’s focused on those capabilities, and the F-16 question is a question for later.”
Pressed by Raddatz on whether or not that meant the F-16’s could become available later, Sullivan deflected to Biden’s prior statements: “I can’t go beyond what the president said today, which is for now, what we’re focused on are the things Ukraine needs to be able to retake territory on the ground in the south and the east, and we will cross the bridge of future phases of this was when they come.”
Biden recently said that F-16’s to Ukraine are off the table “for now.” (RELATED: Blinken: Taxpayers Have Been ‘Incredibly Generous’ Toward Ukraine, But America Must ‘Sustain Our Involvement’)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked the West for F-16’s to supplement his country’s current air combat capabilities, but the U.S. and Europe have thus far declined to provide them, claiming they are unnecessary. The Biden administration has made similar claims about a number of forms of aid to Ukraine since the war began a year ago, such as tanks, before later agreeing to provide them at Ukraine’s request.