Biden could use PDA for unlocking new military package to Kiev: WH
US White House official reveals that US President Joe Biden could use his Presidential Drawdown Authority to unlock new weapons for the upcoming Kiev package.
A senior administration official said the White House is unable to confirm, at this point, that US President Joe Biden will use his Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to unlock a new military package for Ukraine.
Earlier this week, Politico reported that Biden would pledge $375 million in military aid for Ukraine following a G7 summit sideline meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"I don't have anything to confirm for you. I've seen the press reporting on another Presidential Drawdown Authority package for Ukraine and I'm not in a position to confirm that press reporting," the White House official told a briefing.
Furthermore, the White House official explained that any statement to this effect "should not come as a surprise to anybody" adding that "PDA packages will continue to flow to Ukraine ... in keeping with our commitment to support them."
Significantly, the official also underscored that the US sought to give Ukraine everything it needs to scale a successful offensive, and explained that "We want to make sure that Ukraine has everything they need to be successful if and when they decide to go on the offense."
The White House official also advised reporters to anticipate further PDA-led reductions in US armament inventories in the near future. Artillery, small arms, ammo, breaching gear, and maybe more HIMARS rounds are among the weaponry the US will transferring from its stockpile and delivering to Ukraine.
"You should expect to see in the near future of PDAs … the kinds of capabilities that we have been providing Ukraine over these last several weeks, as they've been preparing for the weather to get better and for the possibility of going on the offense on their own in the weeks and months ahead," he said.
Ukraine says hopes to get F-16 fighter jets by fall
As soon as the United States gives its approval for its allies to deliver their US-made fighter jets to Kiev, Ukraine plans to receive the first F-16 fighters from international donors in the early fall, said Yuri Sak, an advisor to the Ukrainian defense minister.
"I would estimate that end of September, early October, we could see the first F-16s flying in the Ukrainian airspace," Sak was quoted by The Washington Post as saying on Friday.
The much-touted Ukrainian counteroffensive, anticipated to start in a few weeks, won't include fighter jets, but WashPo said the unusual rapidity with which the White House made the choice after over a year of hesitation.
According to reports, Congress, US allies, and Zelensky applied pressure, which led to the provision of fighter jets to Ukraine.
At the same time, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Saturday that Kiev was still not ready for F-16s and that the United States and its allies would choose which nations and how many would provide Kiev with these aircraft.
Meanwhile, Zelensky told German broadcaster ZDF that while being "very happy" about the donors' consensus on fighter jets. He also does not expect them to come immediately.
"I do not think that the decision means we will have these means of defense tomorrow. We will have to prepare ourselves. But still, it is a great decision," Zelensky told the broadcaster.
Several NATO allies have offered to train Ukrainian pilots in flying F-16s, the latest of which being Italy, with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni telling a press conference on Saturday that though her country had no F-16s to donate, it is ready to assist in the pilot training program.
"Italy does not have F-16s … What is worth looking at — and we should do it with our allies— is the possible training mission for Ukrainian pilots. We have not made the decision yet. We are discussing it with the allies," she told reporters.
Meanwhile, Biden told G7 leaders that Washington will endorse supplying advanced warplanes including F-16s to Ukraine and will support efforts to train Kiev's pilots, a senior White House official said Friday.
Biden said the United States "will support a joint effort with our allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16s, to further strengthen and improve the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force," the official revealed.
Read more: Biden supports advanced jets for Ukraine: White House source