Ukraine hails 'historic' decision to supply F-16 jets from Denmark and Netherlands

AFP - [email protected]
Ukraine hails 'historic' decision to supply F-16 jets from Denmark and Netherlands
Ukrainian presidential couple Vlodymyr Zelensky and Olena Zelenska are received by Queen Margrethe and Crown Prince Frederik in Copenhagen on Monday. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed Sunday a "historic" decision by the Netherlands and Denmark to provide American F-16 fighter jets, the latest move by Western allies to bolster his country's efforts to fend off Russia's invasion.


Zelensky had sought the advanced jets for months to strengthen Ukraine's Soviet-era air force as it pursues a grinding counteroffensive against Russian forces in the east.

Washington announced its approval of the F-16 transfers on Friday, with training of Ukraine pilots set to begin this month, which may allow Ukraine to begin deploying the jets in early 2024.

The decision is "absolutely historic, powerful and inspiring for us", Zelensky said alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during a visit to the Eindhoven air force base in the Netherlands.

Rutte said the number of F-16s provided to Kyiv had not been determined, but Zelensky said in a later statement that "Our warriors will receive 42 great combat aircraft".


Zelensky then travelled to Denmark's Skrydstrup air force base and was greeted by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who said "We also know that you need more, and that is why today we announced that we will donate 19 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine".

Six of the jets will be delivered by the end of this year, eight next year and five in 2025, she said.

"This is a very powerful support for us -- training missions are already starting," Zelensky said.

"We are doing our best to get even more results for Ukraine," he added. "In particular, today we discussed the expansion of training missions."

In a separate statement, Zelensky thanked the US, which has strict rules on the sale or transfer of American military equipment by its allies.

"I also thank President Joseph Biden, both parties in the US Congress, and the entire American people for their unwavering support and continuously positive steps for the aviation coalition and for the benefit of our common freedom," he said.

The long-sought approval to supply the jets drew a warning from Russia.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would consider the F-16s a "nuclear" threat because of their capacity to carry atomic weapons.



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