Joe Biden ‘blocked Ben Wallace from top NATO job in fighter jet row’

Ukraine ‘will become a member of NATO’ says Jens Stoltenberg

Joe Biden blocked Ben Wallace from becoming Nato’s next secretary-general in a fighter jet row, it has been claimed.

The Defence Secretary had been a favourite to take over from Jens Stoltenberg as head of the military alliance.

But Mr Wallace is said to have failed to secure the support of Washington – the largest military power in Nato – after Britain pushed to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s without its backing.

A Nato source told the Telegraph the move “ended any remaining hope” the Defence Secretary had of winning over the US President.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in May announced the UK would help spearhead an international effort to provide the US-made aircraft for war-torn Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

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The announcement piled pressure on the US, which controls the export licence on the fighter jets.

Days later, Mr Wallace said the decision to send F-16s to Kyiv lies with the US.

Mr Biden subsequently agreed to let allies train Ukrainian pilots on the fighter jets.

It comes after reports the US President is backing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for the Nato job.

Mr Biden was said to be pushing for the former German defence minister to take over from former Norwegian prime minister Mr Stoltenberg, whose leadership will end in autumn 2024.

But The Times cited senior Washington sources as denying Mrs von der Leyen was Mr Biden’s pick.

Mr Wallace had pushed to become the first Briton to lead the alliance since 2003.

But last month he admitted: “It’s not going to happen” and there are “a lot of unresolved issues in Nato”.

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