US President Joe Biden has authorized the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine and expressed support for training Ukrainian pilots, signaling a breakthrough for Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

US President Joe Biden told G7 leaders that Washington will support providing advanced warplanes including F-16s to Ukraine and will back efforts to train Kyiv’s pilots, a senior White House official said Friday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is set to attend the G7 summit in Japan, hailed the move on Twitter as a “historic decision,” adding that he looked forward to “discussing the practical implementation” of the plan in Hiroshima.

The US move signals a major breakthrough for Kyiv, which has repeatedly — and until recently unsuccessfully — pushed its Western supporters to agree to provide high-tech jets as it fights to fend off Russia’s more than year-long invasion.

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 said.

“As the training takes place over the coming months, our coalition of countries participating in this effort will decide when to actually provide jets, how many we will provide, and who will provide them.”

Momentum has been building for providing high-tech warplanes to Ukraine, but US support is especially key, as it legally has to approve the reexport of equipment purchased by allies, including F-16 jets.

Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pledged to build an “international coalition” to provide fighter jet support for Ukraine.

After visiting Sunak at his Chequers country estate outside London on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was “very positive” about creating a “jets coalition” in his country’s war with Russia.

Sunak said Monday that the UK was preparing to open a flight school to train Ukrainian pilots, and French President Emmanuel Macron also offered to do so but ruled out sending war planes to Kyiv.

Previously, US opposition to providing advanced jets centered around the long timeline and high price of doing so, with officials saying there were more cost-effective means to boost Kyiv’s air defenses.

Marie de La Roche Saint-André, with AFP