September 23, 2023

By MIKE CORDER (Related Press)

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands and Denmark introduced Sunday they are going to give F-16 warplanes to Ukraine, in a long-awaited announcement that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referred to as an vital motivation for his nation’s forces which might be embroiled in a tough counteroffensive in opposition to Russia.

The timeline is determined by how quickly Ukrainian crews and infrastructure are prepared for the highly effective U.S.-made jets, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte advised Zelenskyy as the 2 visited a Dutch air base.

Ukraine has lengthy pleaded for the subtle fighter to offer it a fight edge. It lately launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive in opposition to the Kremlin’s forces with out air cowl, inserting its troops on the mercy of Russian aviation and artillery.

Zelenskyy welcomed the ‘’historic” announcement and praised Rutte for making the Netherlands the primary nation to supply the planes. The announcement got here minutes after the 2 leaders inspected two grey F-16 jets parked in a hangar on the Dutch base within the southern metropolis of Eindhoven.

“It makes me proud that Denmark, along with the Netherlands, will donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine’s struggle for freedom in opposition to Russia and its mindless aggression. Denmark’s assist for Ukraine is unwavering, and with the donation of F-16 plane, Denmark is now main the way in which,” Danish Protection Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen mentioned in a press release.

Zelenskyy mentioned Ukraine on his Telegram channel that Ukraine would get 42 jets, however the Netherlands and Denmark, in a joint assertion asserting the deliveries, didn’t specify numbers.

Rutte mentioned mentioned the Netherlands has 42 of the jets, however mentioned some will probably be wanted for coaching functions.

When they are going to take to the skies over Zelenskyy’s nation additionally remained unclear, however Rutte mentioned he hopes it will likely be quickly.

“The F-16s won’t assist instantly now with the struggle effort. It’s anyway a long-term dedication from the Netherlands,” the Dutch chief mentioned. “We would like them to be lively and operational as quickly as potential. … Not for the following month, that’s unattainable, however hopefully quickly afterward.”

Zelenskyy referred to as the announcement a strong message to his forces.

‘’F16 will definitely give new vitality, confidence, and motivation to fighters and civilians. I’m positive it can ship new outcomes for Ukraine and your complete Europe,” he mentioned.

The Dutch and Danish governments are additionally concerned in a coalition that’s working to coach Ukrainian pilots to fly the superior fighter jets.

Zelenskyy declined to say what number of Ukrainian pilots would bear coaching in Denmark and later in Romania, citing safety causes. Nonetheless, Denmark mentioned Friday that the coaching is beginning this month.

Officers have beforehand mentioned that Ukrainian pilots will want six to eight months of coaching.

On Friday, the Netherlands and Denmark mentioned the U.S. had licensed them to ship American-made F-16s to Ukraine. Washington’s approval was seen as a significant increase for Kyiv, regardless that the fighter jets gained’t have an effect any time quickly on the just about 18-month struggle.

Washington says the F-16s — just like the superior U.S. Abrams tanks — will probably be essential in the long run as Kyiv faces down Russia.

Ukraine has been counting on older plane, akin to Russian-made MiG29 and Sukhoi jets. F-16s have newer know-how and concentrating on capabilities. They’re additionally extra versatile, specialists say.

In a video message earlier Sunday, Zelenskyy vowed a stern retaliation for a Russian missile strike the day prior to this within the middle of the northern Ukrainian metropolis of Chernihiv that killed seven folks and wounded over 100 others.


Related Press author Karl Ritter in Stockholm contributed.


Comply with AP’s protection of the struggle in Ukraine: