(Washington) Joe Biden on Monday categorically refused the idea of sending American F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, whose list of arms assistance is growing to drive Russian forces out of its occupied territory.
“No”, said the American president when a journalist questioned him at the White House on the possibility of providing the devices demanded by the Ukrainian leaders.
As February 24 approaches, which will mark one year since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Joe Biden did not want to say if he would travel to Europe on this occasion.
But he assured that he would go, without specifying a date, to Poland, a country which plays a key role in the response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Brazil, which is hosting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on a tour of the continent, will not send ammunition to Ukraine, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said.
“My suggestion is to create a group of countries (that will come together) around the table with Ukraine and Russia to try” to achieve peace, he said.
Lula also stressed that China’s role was fundamental in finding a way out of the war. “It’s time for China to get its hands dirty,” he said.
On the side of the European bloc, Berlin has already categorically rejected the idea of sending combat planes, while French President Emmanuel Macron has cautiously estimated that “by definition, nothing is excluded”, while ensuring that the Ukrainians had not made any such request to him to date.
Mr. Macron underlined “criteria” before any decision: a “request formulated” by Ukraine, that it “not be escalatory” and “not likely to touch Russian soil but to help the resistance effort » and that « it does not come to weaken the capacity of the French army ».
“It is in the light of these three criteria that we will continue to look on a case-by-case basis” deliveries of military equipment, he added after having set the same criteria for the possible dispatch of Leclerc tanks.
The French president also spoke with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has already floated the idea of sending F-16s to Ukraine, stressing that there was no “taboo” on this subject, but that it would be “a big step”.
Last week, the West had reached a plateau in military aid to Ukraine when Germany and the United States finally announced the dispatch of tanks.
But President Volodymyr Zelensky is calling for even greater assistance, including the delivery of long-range missiles and combat aircraft.
With Ukrainian artillery ammunition reserves running low, France and Australia announced on Monday an agreement to jointly produce 155mm shells for Ukraine.
“Several thousand 155mm shells will be produced jointly,” said French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu, while his Australian counterpart, Richard Marles, spoke of a “multi-million dollar Australian project”, a “new cooperation between Australian and French defense industries”.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday called on South Korea to “step up” its military support for Ukraine, suggesting it revise its policy of not providing arms to countries at war.
There is an “urgent need for additional ammunition,” Stoltenberg said while visiting Seoul.
If Russian President Vladimir Putin won the war, it would “send a very dangerous message to authoritarian leaders around the world”, he continued, warning of “direct consequences” for security and stability in Asia.
Tensions between Iran and Ukraine
Iran summoned Ukraine’s charge d’affaires to Tehran on Monday after an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency said about a drone attack that targeted a military compound in the province of Isfahan (center) and a fire in a public motor oil factory in the north, without any link being made between the two.
“An explosive night in Iran – drone and missile production, oil refineries,” the Ukrainian adviser tweeted. “Ukraine warned you,” he added.
Iran has supplied attack drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the adviser’s position “strange and biased” and demanded “an official and immediate explanation from the Ukrainian government” for the statement.
On the front, fighting continues in Ukraine, with the Russians seeking to extend their grip in the east of the country, where clashes have intensified of late.
But Ukraine denied on Monday that Russian troops were advancing in the Donetsk region, as Moscow claimed, near the town of Vougledar, a new hot spot on the front.