The US to provide F-16 fighter jets and piliot training to Ukraine

Dramatic drone pictures show Russian shelling of Bakhmut, but Ukrainians are hoping their pilots could be patrolling this airspace in F16 warplanes following an announcement by the US government.

The new plan would allow several nations to supply the fourth-generation aircraft and for the US to help train the pilots.

President Joe Biden laid out the agreement to world leaders meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, on Friday. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to join the G7 leaders later on Saturday.

G7 leaders meeting in Hiroshima, Japan. May 20, 2023

The decision marks a dramatic breakthrough for Ukraine’s diplomatic efforts to secure access to the modern military jets. Repeatedly in recent months US senior officials have flatly rejected sending F16s to Ukraine, amid concerns the move would infuriate the Russians and provoke President Vladimir Putin into escalating the war.

A wounded Ukrainian soldier at a medical stabilisation point near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 19, 2023.

Those delays have been hugely frustrating for the Ukrainians fighting and dying along Ukraine’s eastern front, with the long, grinding battle for bombed-out Bakhmut, a city 90% controlled by Russia grinding on with little sign of an end in sight.

Drone footage released on Telegram by a Ukrainian channel showing Russian shelling of Bakhmut, May 19, 2023

Drone footage published on a Telegram channel purportedly belonging to fighters of Ukraine’s Signum special forces unit shows fierce shelling of apartment buildings.

Both Ukraine and Russia’s mercenary Wagner groups said Russians have made retreats from areas around the city. The Russians are shelling access routes to slow Ukrainian advances.

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