Netherlands and Denmark to Send F-16 Jets to Ukraine, Despite Risk of Escalation

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Ukraine has sought advanced warplanes to fend off Russia’s invasion since the conflict began in 2014. Still, its Western allies have been reluctant to provide weapons that Kyiv could use to strike deep inside Russia’s territory. Washington’s approval of the Netherlands and Denmark to hand over American-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine marks a change in approach. It signals a new urgency to get those aircraft on the battlefield sooner rather than later.

The United States’ decision to grant the Dutch and Danish governments permission to deliver the planes will allow Ukraine to begin training pilots for them this month, a senior U.S. administration official said. The official spoke anonymously because the details were not authorized to be publicly released. It will also clear the way for the Netherlands to deliver the aircraft this year and for Denmark to do so next year. The officials said the United States expects the first batch of Ukrainian pilots to be ready for use with the F-16s by early 2024.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the news on Sunday, calling it “absolutely historic, powerful and inspiring for us.” He arrived at a Dutch air base with Prime Minister Mark Rutte to inspect two gray F-16 jets parked in a hangar. Zelenskyy also discussed the start of pilot training with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

The Danish government will deliver 19 fighter jets to Ukraine, six this year, eight next year, and five in 2024. A military official said it would also transfer the weapons system and equipment to Ukraine. It will take the Ukrainians six to eight months to train pilots for the F-16s and another six to eight months before they are ready to deploy them.

Danish Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said the country expects Ukraine to use the warplanes only within its territory. “We donate weapons under the condition that they should be used to drive the enemy out of the country of Ukraine and no further,” he said.

Russia’s ambassador to Denmark warned that the move represents an “escalation” of the conflict. Vladimir Barbin said Ukraine should be prepared for the potential arrival of additional Russian military units. Moscow would consider the new aircraft a threat to its security and will treat them as such.

The decision to supply the fighter jets was made after a meeting of the Bureau of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which includes the leaders of the countries in the region. Officials heard reports from rapporteurs preparing resolutions for the organization’s annual session in the U.K. this summer and debated international issues, including the ongoing conflict with Russia. The OSCE PA is the only pan-European parliament with legislative authority. Its members include elected M.P.s from the European Union, NATO member nations, and several non-member states in the area of the former Soviet bloc. They are elected to serve a three-year term.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor is a freelance writer and editor specializing in beauty and fashion. With a degree in fashion design and over 10 years of experience in the industry, Elizabeth has a keen eye for style and trends. She has written for various fashion and beauty publications, covering topics such as skincare, makeup, and fashion trends. Elizabeth is also the founder of a popular fashion blog, where she shares her personal style and tips with her readers. When she's not writing, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her family and practicing yoga.

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