Chris Lange, FISM News
President Joe Biden appeared to blight Ukraine’s hopes that the U.S. will supply it with long-requested F-16 fighter jets, responding with a succinct “no” to a reporter who asked him the question Monday.
The response likely came as a shock to Kyiv. Just last week, U.S. national security officials said that Washington would be discussing the issue “very carefully” with allies, and U.S. arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin revealed that it had stepped up production of the warplanes as a proactive measure, though it stressed that it wasn’t part of any direct conversations about Ukraine.
A U.S. official later appeared to try to clarify the President’s response later in the day, telling Politico that there has not yet been any “serious, high-level discussion about F-16s,” which the news outlet interpreted as a suggestion that “the matter is not yet decided.” The official spoke to the outlet on condition of anonymity.
Newsweek reported that Ukrainian officials have expressed confidence that its allies will agree to supply Kyiv with more advanced weapons, including fighter jets, but also acknowledged that Western leaders will have to arrive at a political consensus about such deliveries, which could take some time.
Kyiv’s hopes to get its hand on long-requested warplanes were no doubt buoyed by the news last week that both the U.S. and Germany had decided to break from the West’s posture of only supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons to give Kyiv high-tech Abrams and Leopard 2 combat tanks, respectively.
Moscow’s reaction to the news was simultaneously furious and dismissive, prompting warnings of “unforeseen consequences” to the West as well as assertions that the tanks would do little to prevent Russia from achieving its goals in Ukraine.
FORMER UK PM JOHNSON TO MEET WITH REPUBLICANS
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to travel to Washington this week where he will meet with Republican lawmakers for the purpose of persuading them to continue to allow U.S. aid to flow into Ukraine.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, told Reuters that Johnson is scheduled to speak at a private Republican club in Washington on Tuesday evening. Wilson, incidentally, recently came under fire for floating a proposal to install a bust of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) separately advised the news service that he and other Republican senators have agreed to meet privately with Johnson, though an exact time was not given.
Johnson hopes to breach growing Republican opposition to continued “blank check” support for Ukraine at a time when the Americans are struggling under soaring inflation and grappling with an unprecedented border crisis, not to mention the nation’s record-shattering national debt of $31.5 trillion. A massive corruption scandal that has rocked Ukraine’s government also seems to have confirmed GOP concerns about how the tens of billions in U.S. aid to Kyiv is being spent and by whom.
Johnson, a staunch supporter of Ukraine, stepped down from his post in July amid a series of scandals but has continued in his efforts to ensure ongoing support for Kyiv, where he recently met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
UK INTEL: RUSSIA POISED TO LAUNCH SECOND ATTEMPT TO SEIZE DONETSK
British intelligence officials said that Russian forces appear to be preparing to launch a concerted assault around the towns of Pavlivka and Vuhledar in the Donetsk province, the site of a November 2022 Kremlin naval attack that proved unsuccessful.
“Russian commanders are likely aiming to develop a new axis of advance into Ukrainian-held Donetsk Oblast, and to divert Ukrainian forces from the heavily contested Bakhmut sector,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said Tuesday in its daily assessment of the war.
It predicted that, while Moscow’s forces are likely to make “local gains” in the region, “it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough.”