British Foreign Secretary urges US to supply Ukraine with F-16s

James Cleverly says Kyiv needs its defences strengthened by modern jets

Thomas Harding

Britain’s Foreign Secretary urged the US to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighters during a visit to Washington on Tuesday, telling American leaders to “give them the tools to get the job done”.

In a frank statement, James Cleverly told an audience at the Atlantic Council think tank that the current state of the war meant that “if we’re saving stuff up for the rainy day, then this is the rainy day”.

With artillery shells a key part in Ukraine’s coming counter-offensive and Russia developing new 1,000kg glide bombs that can be launched from its fighters, the need for an effective air defence system is more pressing.

But the US has to date denied the export of F-16s to Ukraine despite more than 4,000 of the highly effective fighter-bombers being available to western and Nato powers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly requested the F-16 aircraft, which Kyiv believes will significantly bolster both its attack and defence capabilities of its relatively small but effective air force.

Mr Cleverly argued that for the future of global security, in which one country cannot be allowed to seize territory from a sovereign state, Ukraine “has to be victorious” in the war against Russia.

“The most humane way of doing that is for them to be victorious quickly,” he said in a response to a question on supply of F-16s and long-range missiles.

“And the best of that is giving them the tools they need to get the job done and give them those tools in the here and now.”

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. EPA

He also indicated that Ukraine should be given longer-range missiles to strike deeper into Russian-held territory. Kyiv has previously requested the US-made Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, which have a range of 300km.

There are concerns that the Russian air force, which has reverted to launching missiles from within its home territory after suffering losses early in the war, could once again reach the front foot if Ukraine’s air defence missiles are depleted.

Having F-16s would substantially curtail Moscow’s ability to gain air supremacy over the front line and deeper into Ukraine.

“We do recognise that air defence and the ability for the Ukrainians to interdict and defend themselves from air attack is important,” said Mr Cleverly.

While Britain does not have any F-16s in its inventory, he added, it is training the next generation of Ukrainian fighter pilots to fly jets.

With fears that a potential future US Republican administration might lose interest in supporting a European war, the politician advocated the need to remain resilient.

“How we respond to Russia’s attempted full scale invasion of Ukraine will be viewed by state and non-state actors,” he said.

“They will check to see our resolve and they will want to see whether the US and the UK have got the staying power, whether we’ve got the grit, the determination or whether we’re going to lose interest or lose stamina 18 or 24 months into this endeavour.

“My argument is that, if we signal to the world that we have only got about 18 months staying power, that will mean a more dangerous environment for the future.”

He added that the coming Ukraine counter-offensive would lead to “escalatory words coming out of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s lips” — potentially referencing the use of nuclear weapons — but that the West needed to retain its resolve.


  1. “How we respond to Russia’s attempted full scale invasion of Ukraine will be viewed by state and non-state actors,” he said.

    It will also be viewed by historians as extreme cowardice in the face of the enemy, if Ukraine does not receive what it needs to defeat the modern day Hitler.

  2. I can’t imagine that the fossil hasn’t already heard countless calls, reasons and pleas for better weapons, including planes and long-range weapons. But, the fossil is too stubborn and too cowardly, and so I doubt that Mr. Clerverly’s call will go unanswered.

    • There are no generals or presidents anywhere on earth that are as experienced and knowledgeable as Joe Biden…just ask him, he’ll tell you. Then likely you can help him remember where he left his ice cream.

  3. If Biden goes down the road of unrestrained spending on foreign wars, I agree he should be removed from the WH.

    We don’t have safe elementary schools and soon 70 million Americans will not have money to buy food if we don’t start borrowing more.

    The US can’t afford to be gifting away billions and billions in weapons systems anymore. Been there, done that, and we are massively in debt for the trouble and have little to nothing to show in return.

    Biden is already contributing far more per GDP than most European nations who are much, much closer to the threat.

    • You come over like a psychopath like Trump. Obviously mass child murder, kidnapping, rape, torture, looting and the survival of Ukraine from a horde of nazi savages is a matter of zero concern to you.
      Your comments will be most fully appreciated on RaT.

      • I have said many times I support aid for Ukraine.

        There is just simply a limit to how much American can do for European security in general and Ukrainian security in particular.

        I suppose though you have zero concern for American children getting killed at school because there is no security, or how many Americans are dying of fentanyl because the police don’t have funding to deal with it, or how many people are homeless because there just isn’t money.

        I work with disabled people and I will tell you honestly that their allocated budgets never meet their needs and they suffer for it and it is excruciating to watch.

        If Europe needs fighters for European security, why does’t Europe provide that. I don’t see Europe contributing to US policing needs. 20,000 killed every year and 100,000 overdosing. Why should I care more about Ukrainian dying that those 120,000 Americans?

        I do care about both but there isn’t enough money for everything and F-16s with all their needs like perfect runways, and upkeep and vulnerability in contested air, and weakness to MANPADs means they may not be money well spent.

        So Ukrainians think the US can borrow money for F16s for Ukraine. Why doesn’t the EU loan Ukraine money for them if they are so desperately needed?

        • Standard kremtroll whatabouterry. We already knew before this holocaust commenced that there were only a small handful of honourable countries in the world that would stick up for Ukraine in her hour of need and even they fell far short of the mark. The rest are garbage. By far the most powerful is the US, which has always taken the lion’s share of the responsibility since it became a superpower.
          Stalin got $300 billion in today’s money, with no expectation of repayment. Churchill got a similar amount. We only finished paying it back in 2007.
          Ukraine faces a much larger and more dangerous fascist power than nazi Germany, yet has received less than 25% of what was given in WW2.
          If you support cutting back on aid to Ukraine, you are supporting genocide. It’s as simple as that. No amount of your Trump-like isolationism can alter that.

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