KYIV. Sept 18 (Interfax-Ukraine) – U.S. Senator from Arizona Mark Kelly (Democratic Party), during his visit to Kyiv, said that Ukraine had made progress in the counteroffensive and is confident that progress will continue.
Kelly said at a briefing in Kyiv on Monday that he thinks that the Ukrainian military are doing a fantastic job in incredibly difficult circumstances against one of the largest armies in the world. According to him, the initial stage of this counteroffensive is good. There is a certain progress which will continue to his mind.
Answering a question about whether he believes that the provision of F-16 aircraft and ATACMS will become a game-changing on the battlefield, the senator said that there is something that can be called a panacea.
Kelly noted that longer-range surface-to-surface missile system can definitely change the situation, a fourth-generation fighter aircraft operated by well-trained people and well-serviced by a crew on the ground can change the situation when combining these two things together.
At the same time, he expressed confidence that the Ukrainian people will succeed thanks to the right decisions of the government and the help of partners.
Speaking about the likely timing of the transfer of ATACMS to Ukraine, he noted that this will be the decision of the Biden administration.
In addition, Kelly said that as part of his visit to Ukraine, he will meet today with friends and colleagues of the deceased pilot Andriy Pilschykov with the call sign Juice.
The senator said that he tragically died a few weeks ago as a result of the L-39 crash. Kelly told that he met with him in his Senate office in Washington, DC last year where they discussed what was in operation in Andriy’s brigade, that he was flying the MiG-29 to fight against the Russian Air Force, and what they need in the future.
According to him, in the near future the United States is going to start training F-16 pilots in Arizona and, in particular, in Tucson, where he lives. As Kelly noted: The F-16 is an aircraft with quite a lot of capabilities that can change the situation.
At the same time, the senator stressed that we wouldn’t see F-16s in the sky over Ukraine next week or next month.
According to Kelly, it will take months to train the team, but he believes that this is a new and significant potential.
According to Kelly, he and the ambassador also met with the border patrol. He is alsogoing to meet with Ukrainian veterans later.
Kelly said that it’s not right to allow Putin and his henchmen to succeed as this would be a colossal mistake on the part of the West.
This is Kelly’s second visit to Ukraine, the first time he was here in April.