THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The Dutch government announced Friday it is preparing to give 18 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, in a boost for the embattled nation that is growing increasingly anxious about aid from its Western allies.
The Dutch defense minister, Kajsa Ollongren, sent a letter to parliament outlining the plan to donate the sophisticated jets that was first unveiled in the summer.
Friday´s decision is a significant step toward sending the planes into the skies over Ukraine, but did not say when they will be delivered.
The government said the move “allows personnel and budget to be allocated to prepare the devices” to be sent to Ukraine.
Zelensky Claims Netherlands to Send Entire Fleet of F-16 Fighter Jets After Meeting with Dutch PMhttps://t.co/n4EzXTUR73
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“With F-16s, Ukraine can better defend itself against Russian attacks,” Ollongren said in a statement. She added that the planes are “extremely important because the ongoing Russian aggression shows no sign of ending. That is why we are continuing unabated with our support for Ukraine.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited a military airbase in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven in August to inspect two of the jets on the day that the Netherland and Denmark said they would donate planes to boost the Ukrainian war effort.
Last month, Romania inaugurated an international training hub for F-16 jet pilots from allied countries and other partners, including Ukraine. The training facility at an air base in southeast Romania will aim to increase interoperability between NATO allies, and better position the military alliance “to face the complex challenges” in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, Romania´s defense ministry said.
Romania said at the time that the powerful U.S.-made warplanes would be supplied by the Dutch air force while the aircraft maker Lockheed Martin would provide instructors and maintenance at the training center.
The Dutch government said Friday it still has to decide whether to grant an export permit for the planes “to prevent undesirable end use.” The foreign ministry will make the assessment based on European Union weapon export rules.
Ukrainian pilots must have completed F-16 training before the jets can be delivered and infrastructure in Ukraine also must be prepared for the planes, the government added.
Reports: NATO-member Norway Follows the Netherlands, Denmark to Donate F-16 Fighters to Ukraine https://t.co/aUVETp01Zb
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