Biden denies sending jets to Ukraine, and Macron still considers possibility

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US President Joe Biden denied this Monday (30) the possibility of sending fighter jets to Ukraine, a country invaded almost a year ago by Russia. On the same day, the leader of France, Emmanuel Macron, signaled in the opposite direction by informing that he does not rule out sending fighter planes to Kiev, something that would represent an escalation in military aid.

The fighter jets are an old demand from President Volodimir Zelensky. He says that sending heavy weapons is essential for Kiev to be able to win the conflict. Last week, after months of pressure and stalemate, the US and Germany announced that they would send war tanks to help efforts against the Russian invasion.

When asked about the possibility of sending F-16 fighters, however, Biden simply said “no”, evidencing his concern that the clash in Eastern Europe could evolve into a Third World War.

The statement highlights a certain gap between the countries of NATO, the western military alliance. Earlier, Macron had said “no possibility was excluded” when asked about sending jets. He then weighed the risk of military escalation and added that no equipment sent to Kiev should be used to hit targets on Russian soil, but rather to help what he called “resistance efforts” in Ukraine.

To the newspaper Politico, an advisor to the French Defense Minister said that the country is still considering training Ukrainian pilots. “I have heard many experts speak highly of French planes and their pilots. Of course, I would be very happy if Ukrainians could be trained to fly French aircraft and use that experience to secure victory.”

The statements provoked reactions in other NATO member countries. Croatian President Zoran Milanovic struck a tough tone when he said sending tanks and other heavy weapons to Kiev would “only prolong the war”.

“What’s the point [do envio de armamentos]? Disintegration of Russia, change of government? There is also talk of separating Russia. This is crazy,” said Milanovic.

In recent months, Milanovic has openly opposed the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO. The countries’ request to join the military club was triggered by the invasion of Ukraine and breaks long periods of historical neutrality.

Also contrary to the training of Ukrainian troops in Croatia, Milanovic expanded the narrative last week by saying that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, will never again be part of Ukraine.

Discussions over sending fighter jets to Ukraine escalated after the US and Germany announced 31 US M1 Abrams and 14 German Leopard-2 tanks to Kiev.

It is still too early to estimate the military impact, which essentially depends on the quantity supplied and how soon the tanks will be available and the Ukrainians able to operate them. A report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in London, points out that some pro-Ukrainian difference on the battlefield could occur with at least one hundred tanks.

In the case of the US, there has been a change of course. Until now, Washington has argued that it would be counterproductive to involve the Abrams in the war because they are complex training tanks that consume a lot of fuel, because their engine is turbocharged, which would make life difficult for the Ukrainians. Zelensky thanked the initiative and took the opportunity to reinforce requests for fighter jets and long-range missiles.

In Brazil, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) denied a request by the German government for the country to supply tank ammunition that would be passed through Berlin to Ukraine. The decision took place on the 20th, at the PT’s meeting with the heads of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Defense, José Múcio. It was the eve of the resignation of the commander of the Army, Júlio Cesar de Arruda.

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