Ukrainian pilots to complete F-16 training no earlier than next summer
The first Ukrainian pilots to undergo F-16 jet fighter training will not be ready to fly them until summer 2024, the Washington Post reported on Aug. 11, citing Ukrainian government and military officials.
Only six pilots, which is about half a squadron, will undergo the first round of training, two unnamed Ukrainian officials reportedly said. Two more pilots have been identified as reserve candidates, the Washington Post reported.
Though fluent in English, the pilots must first undergo four months of English lessons in the U.K. to learn the terminology needed to fly the jets.
This means that the combat training itself is expected to start only in January 2024, the Washington Post reported. A second group roughly the same size would be ready around the end of the next year, the outlet said.
Additionally, 20 more pilots with minimal English skills are reportedly available to start language instruction in the U.K. within the month.
According to the Washington Post, the delays highlight the division between the West, which sees F-16s mainly as a tool for Ukraine's long-term security, and Kyiv, which hopes to deploy the modern jets against Russian forces as soon as possible.
Last month, the U.S. said it will allow European countries to train Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets in a potential boon for Ukraine's efforts to counter Russia's air superiority.
In May, Biden had informed G7 leaders that the U.S. would support a joint effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s. On Aug. 9, the Pentagon confirmed that U.S. President Joe Biden "has given the green light" to allow and support the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.
Earlier in August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the training of Ukrainian pilots should begin this month. According to U.S. officials, this process should take place on the territory of two NATO members, Romania and Denmark.
70-year-old doctor from France covers 4,000 kilometres on bicycle to help Ukrainians
French Doctor Karim Lunisi, 70, has cycled more than 4,000 kilometers from France to Ukraine to raise funds to purchase generators and first-aid kits for Ukrainians.
Lunisi has visited Lviv and is heading to Kyiv reported the Lviv City Council.
In June 2023, Karim Lunisi traveled from France to Ukraine via Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Czechia, and Poland.
After the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Lunisi tried to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a volunteer, but he was not accepted due to his age and insufficient knowledge of English.
Lunisi decided to help through charity. The main goal of his bike trip is to raise funds to purchase generators and first-aid kits for the military.
I came here on behalf of all people who want peace, and with my visit, I want to remind the whole world that the war in Ukraine continues. It is essential to inspire people to help your country by your example", Karim Lunisi notes.
This is not the first time the Frenchman has visited Lviv; he visited the city in the spring of 2022 when the full-scale war had just begun.
"The next time I come back to your beautiful city, I will bring the help for which I am raising funds," Karim Lunisi says.
In Lviv, Lunisi was met by Mayor Andrii Sadovyi and presented with a commemorative coin of Danylo of Galicia.
UN rep condemns Russian attack on hotel in Zaporizhzhia
Denise Brown, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, condemned the Russian military's Aug. 10 attack on Zaporizhzhia.
The missile strike killed one person and injured 16 others, damaging the Reikartz Hotel on the Dnipro River. The hotel was often used by UN staff and NGO workers.
Brown said she was "appalled" by the attack, calling the strike "unacceptable."
"The number of indiscriminate strikes that have damaged civilian infrastructure and killed and injured civilians has reached an incredible level," Brown said. "And they are a violation of international humanitarian law."
Brown said the Reikartz Hotel was a hub for UN humanitarian aid workers in the city. The UN used the hotel as a base for its civilian evacuation of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in May 2022.
The attack on the hotel was the second deadly missile strike on Zaporizhzhia in two days. Three people were killed in the Aug. 9 attack.
Brown called for Russia to "immediately cease its indiscriminate attacks on Ukraine."