President Joe Biden is set to announce a new $375 million military aid package for Ukraine after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart at the G7 summit in Japan this weekend, according to three U.S. and Ukrainian officials familiar with the discussions.
The package will include more artillery shells, armored vehicles and anti-tank weapons — all equipment that the U.S. and allies have supplied to Kyiv in the past, but will be much needed in the months of hard fighting expected this spring and summer. The officials were granted anonymity to speak about the discussions ahead of an announcement.
The news comes as the U.S. president signaled that he would greenlight the third-party transfer of American F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, telling his G7 counterparts overnight that he will support a joint international effort to train Ukrainian pilots on the aircraft.
Taken together, the moves are a strong show of support for Kyiv ahead of an expected counteroffensive that Ukrainians hope will retake more territory seized by Russia. Moscow has bombarded Ukraine with missiles in recent weeks, but Kyiv has had success thwarting the attacks with newly received Western air defenses like the Patriot missile system.
Countries that have flown the F-16 for decades, like Belgium, Denmark and The Netherlands have indicated they would participate in the training program, while Norway is also mulling lending a hand. All of the NATO countries are in the process of transitioning to the F-35 and have been selling their older F-16 to third countries like Romania, who desperately want to upgrade from their Soviet-era aircraft.
So far, none of the countries, including the U.S., have committed to sending any F-16s to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy, fresh from a tour of European capitals this week which included a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia to drum up support for his country’s war effort, has used the extended trip to put on a very public show of stability and calm as the war grinds on, with its front lines largely stable and his troops preparing for new assaults on entrenched Russian positions.