NATO begins sending F-16s to Ukraine, pledges $43 billion in military aid

NATO begins sending F-16s to Ukraine, pledges $43 billion in military aid

Biden announced that Denmark and the Netherlands had begun sending US-made F-16 jets to Ukraine.


NATO allies announced Wednesday they had begun transferring F-16 jets to Ukraine and stepped up pledges to kyiv about eventual alliance membership at a 75th anniversary summit marred by political uncertainties in the United States.

With the pageantry of the three-day meeting in the US capital, President Joe Biden is seeking to unite the West and also reassure American voters amid pre-election scrutiny over whether at 81 — six years older than the alliance — he is still fit for office.

Biden individually welcomed the other 31 alliance leaders before urging them to keep pace with Russia’s military production, which has increased dramatically in the two years since President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

“We can and will defend every inch of NATO territory and we will do it together,” Biden told the North Atlantic Council, the alliance’s formal decision-making body, at the Washington convention center as the city sweltered in a heatwave.

Biden announced that Denmark and the Netherlands had begun sending U.S.-made F-16 jets to Ukraine, fulfilling a key promise made last year to kyiv, which has struggled to achieve parity in the air with Russia.

He previously announced new air defense systems for Ukraine and said the United States had agreed to periodically station long-range missiles in Germany.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the F-16 transfer “focuses Vladimir Putin’s mind on the fact that he will not outlive Ukraine, he will not outlive us, and if he continues, the damage that will continue to be done to Russia and its interests will only deepen.”

But Donald Trump, who is leading Biden in recent polls, has floated the possibility of achieving a quick peace deal by forcing Ukraine to hand over territory to Russia.

The Republican tycoon has repeatedly questioned the usefulness of NATO, created in 1949 as a collective defence against Moscow, which he considers an unfair burden on the United States.

– ‘Terrorism must fail’ –
On the eve of the summit, Russia launched a barrage of missiles at Ukraine, killing dozens of people, including in kyiv, where a children’s hospital was reduced to rubble.

Biden invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the summit, who expressed his gratitude for the F-16s.

The new plane “will bring a just and lasting peace closer, proving that terrorism must fail,” Zelensky wrote on social media.

The summit was partly aimed at “protecting Trump’s alliance,” including by giving NATO a larger role, rather than the United States, in coordinating arms supplies to Ukraine.

In a joint statement, NATO leaders pledged to give Ukraine 40 billion euros ($43 billion) in military aid “within the next year” as part of efforts to increase predictability, after Trump’s allies in Congress delayed U.S. assistance for months.

Stoltenberg insisted that NATO also wanted to end the war, but with a Ukrainian victory.

“The quickest way to end a war is to lose it,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

Trump’s advisers have discussed making aid to Ukraine conditional on forcing Kiev to come to the negotiating table and have said China, not Russia, is a bigger concern for U.S. interests.

The NATO leaders’ statement took aim at China, expressing “deep concern” over its industrial support for Russia.

Biden has also invited four key Pacific partners – Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand – as he seeks to increase NATO’s role in Asia.

– Ukraine’s “irreversible” path to NATO –
The summit stepped up pledges to Ukraine, saying it was on an “irreversible path towards full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership.”

Ukraine has been trying unsuccessfully for years to become a member of NATO, which considers an attack on one to be an attack on all.

But Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have expressed concern that involving Ukraine would effectively amount to going to war with Russia, which has nuclear weapons and occupies large swathes of Ukraine.

Finnish President Alexander Stubb (which, like Sweden, joined NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) praised the language as a message to Putin that he is failing in his goal of pushing back the alliance.

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, visiting the country days after his Labour Party came to power, promised Zelensky that Britain, unlike the United States, was united across party lines in supporting Ukraine.

Starmer made clear he had no problem with Ukraine using British missiles to attack Russian territory, comments that prompted a rebuke from Moscow.

The summit, Starmer told reporters, is showing Putin that NATO “is now bigger than ever, more united than ever and absolutely clear about the threat of Russian aggression.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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