By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
WASHINGTON/KYIV (Worthy News) – The United States on Friday pledged to support the delivery of F-16 fighter planes to war torn Ukraine after Russia allegedly destroyed Ukrainian drones targeting Moscow and its Black Sea Fleet.
Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said Friday that Ukrainian pilot training on F-16s will be followed by transferring jets to Ukraine. “What we did this week is formalized through a letter from Secretary [Anthony] Blinken to his counterparts in Europe, that upon the completion of that training, the United States would be prepared in consultation with Congress to approve third party transfer of F 16 aircraft to Ukraine,” he told reporters.
The announcement was music to the ears of leaders of a coalition of 11 countries that was due to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 jets this month in Denmark.
The training was agreed a day after Kyiv said that, based on current timelines, Ukraine would not be able to operate the jets by autumn or winter.
However, the sending of fighter planes came as Russia’s government suggested that Ukraine suffered setbacks in air strikes targeting Russia and annexed territories.
Russia’s defense ministry said its air force had downed a Ukrainian drone over the capital at about 4 am local time on Friday.
Footage showed damage to an expo centered on the Krasnopresnenskaya embankment of the Moskva River, just 100 meters (328 feet) from Moscow city.
Elsewhere, along the Black Sea, Russian navy patrol ships reportedly shot down a drone late Thursday night about 237 kilometers (147 miles) southwest of Sevastopol, the base of its Black Sea Fleet on the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula.
A large fire was still burning at the Russian Novorossiysk fuel oil terminal in Novorossiysk, one of the largest ports on the Black Sea that is located about 107 miles (172km) from Crimea, witnesses said.
It remained unclear as of Friday whether a Ukrainian drone strike caused the fire. Separately the thermal power plant in Ukraine’s Donetsk region was operating “at a reduced capacity” due to Russian shelling “that damaged the electricity line,” said Ukraine’s energy ministry.
More than 14,000 consumers remain without electricity in the Donetsk, Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions. In Kherson, about 11,000 consumers remain powerless after Russians destroyed the Kahovska dam two months ago.
The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces estimated that Russian troops lost 460 personnel this week. Officials say that number brings Ukraine’s total estimate of Russian personnel killed since the invasion to 256,510.
While that figure was difficult to verify independently, several experts and authorities agree that hundreds of thousands of people were killed or injured in Europe’s bloodiest armed conflict since the Second World War.
However, there is pressure on Kyiv and Moscow, including from the Vatican, to settle their differences peacefully.
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