In an interview with ABC News, US President Joe Biden ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine “for now”, one of the most urgent requests from the president of the attacked country, Volodimir Zelensky. In addition, Biden rejected China’s proposed 12-point peace plan, saying its role as a “peacemaker” in the conflict is “irrational.”
Increase in military aid to Ukraine yes, fighter jets no. At least “for now”. This was confirmed by the President of the United States Joe Biden, in an interview with ABC News.
“He doesn’t need F-16 now… We are sending him (Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky) what our experienced Army thinks he needs now. He needs tanks, he needs artillery, he needs air defense, including another HIMARS. There are things he needs now that we will send him in to put him in a position to make a profit this spring and this summer,” Trump said.
Fighter aircraft, particularly F-16 fighters, is one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s most urgent requests to his Western allies to push back Russian troops, determined to wrest more territory from the attacked nation. Zelensky’s lightning tour at the beginning of February focused precisely on this call, in which he met with the leaders of the United Kingdom and France.
A year after the biggest conflict on European soil since World War II, the invaded nation’s defenses are repelling constant attacks from the Kremlin and resisting with outdated Soviet-era military equipment, as a France24 team from Bakhmut showed, one of the localities that faces the most combats counts.
“We don’t have enough armored vehicles to push the Russians back,” said one of the soldiers interviewed on the front lines. Even among the best tools that the Ukrainian military has are vehicles that the Russians left behind when they fled from areas like Izium, due to the advance of the Kiev forces.
Washington and the European Union have increased their support for Kiev, but are reluctant to send certain military equipment, amid fears of increasing the fury of the Kremlin, which sees the growing support for the invaded nation as a supposed threat to its territory.
The West chooses to equip the Ukrainian Army from other fronts. And in that bet, this week Biden announced additional aid for 500 million dollars.
In addition, and after overcoming the reluctance on the part of Berlin, last January the NATO allies announced the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks, considered a jewel of the German Army, and Abrams from the US.
But the number of examples announced so far is limited and – with the exception of the four tanks delivered on Friday, February 24 by Poland – these powerful vehicles are not expected to reach the hands of Ukrainian forces before spring or summer.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin military, backed by the Wagner mercenary group, is taking advantage of these gaps and increasing its fury with forceful onslaughts, especially in the greater Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.
“We have to put the Ukrainians in a position where they can make progress this spring and summer and move to a place where they can negotiate from a position of strength. But, as I have expressed before, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. We are not going to dictate what the final result is,” Biden remarked in the interview.
Biden calls China’s “pacifying role” “irrational”
The United States does not believe in the intentions of the Chinese government to become a peace broker. This was stated by the leader of the White House.
“I have not seen anything in the plan that indicates that there is something that would be beneficial to someone other than Russia, if the Chinese plan were followed (…) The idea that China is going to negotiate the outcome of a war that is totally unfair to Ukraine is simply not rational,” Biden said.
His statements came just hours after the Chinese government finally made public its announced peace plan to reach eventual agreements between Moscow and kyiv to end hostilities.
The program consists of 12 points: respect the sovereignty of all countries, abandon the Cold War mentality, cease hostilities, resume peace talks, resolve the humanitarian crisis, protect civilians and prisoners of war, preserve security nuclear facilities, reduce strategic risks, facilitate grain exports, end unilateral sanctions, keep industrial and supply chains stable, and promote post-conflict reconstruction.
But the rapprochement between Beijing and Moscow, which in the last year has gone from being relatively discreet to a united and open front, as remarked by the highest representative of Chinese diplomacy Wang Yi during his visit to Vladimir Putin on Thursday, February 23, raises doubts on the part of the European Union, NATO and the United States.
“Putin is applauding him, so how could that be a good thing?” Biden stressed.
Likewise, the head of state highlighted the possibility that China supplies the Kremlin with weapons to continue with its invasion, something that he indicated would have a response from his government.
Beijing abstained from voting on the resolution condemning the Russian war at the UN General Assembly last Thursday, which was approved with 141 votes in favor, seven against, and 32 abstentions.
Zelensky’s adviser rejects China’s peace plan
The main adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, Mykhailo Podolyak, assured in the last few hours that he rejects the Chinese government’s proposal to cease hostilities, calling it “unrealistic.”
Beijing should not “bet on an aggressor who broke the law (…) If he claims to be a global player, he offers an unrealistic plan. You do not bet on an aggressor who broke international law and will lose the war,” Podolyak asserted, through a message posted on his Twitter account.
If you claim to be a global player, you don’t offer an unrealistic plan. You don’t bet on an aggressor who broke intl law and will lose the war. He is not far-sighted. As someone who plans for decades doesn’t play “🇷🇺 3-day games.”
China, the “window of opportunity” is not endless
— Mihaylo Podolyak (@Podolyak_M) February 25, 2023
On Friday, during a meeting with the international press, President Volodímir Zelenski indicated that although Beijing did not offer a concrete plan but rather some “thoughts” on the conflict and that it does not agree with some points of the proposal, it assured that it was open to discuss other aspects included in the document.
As the conflict promises to escalate and Ukraine urges the West to speed up arms delivery, Russia escalates its threat to the nuclear level, after suspending its participation in the New START treaty and announcing the deployment of hypersonic missiles.
With Reuters and EFE