After an unexpected visit by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has made a significant commitment to Ukraine’s defense efforts against Russia. Rutte has pledged to provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine’s cause, stating that these aircraft will be allocated to Ukrainian pilots who are skilled in their operation, according to a report by Bloomberg.
This development coincides with Denmark and the Netherlands receiving approval from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to dispatch their F-16s to Ukraine. Mark Rutte, who is set to step down from his role as the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister, emphasized that despite his impending departure from politics, the Netherlands’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s military endeavors will persist under the guidance of the caretaker cabinet.
Presently, the Netherlands possesses a total of 42 F-16 planes, of which 24 are actively deployed and cannot be transferred to Ukraine until at least 2024. Denmark has yet to outline specific timelines for delivering its fighter jets, but indications from the nation suggest a plan to retain its fleet of 30 jets until 2024. Notably, Denmark has already placed orders for 27 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
Ukrainian pilots are currently undergoing intensive training in both the Netherlands and Denmark. Officials from these countries have indicated that the training process is anticipated to take between 6 to 8 months. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine welcomed this development as a vital advancement in fortifying the nation’s air defense capabilities, remarking, “This marks yet another stride toward bolstering Ukraine’s aerial defenses.”
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Amid the ongoing conflict, NATO continues to extend its support to the war-torn Ukraine. Germany has recently announced its commitment to provide Kyiv with a substantial aid package of $5.4 billion annually. Finance Minister Christian Lindner underscored that Germany’s commitment remains unwavering for as long as it is needed to support Ukraine’s stability.
President Zelenskyy’s visit to Sweden on Saturday has inaugurated a new phase of discussions focused on reinforcing Ukraine’s defense capabilities against Russia’s invading forces. The proposed weapon aid could potentially inject fresh momentum into the gradual offensive aimed at reclaiming territories currently occupied by Russia.