The Netherlands and Denmark will provide Ukraine with much sought-after F-16 aircraft in an agreement hailed by President Volodymyr Zelensky as “historic.”
Kyiv has urgently been calling on its Western allies to provide F-16 jets, as its slow-moving counteroffensive is hampered by Russian air superiority.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Zelensky at Eindhoven airport, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country would “commit to delivering F-16 aircraft to Ukraine” once “the conditions for such a transfer have been met.”
Zelensky hailed the agreement as “historic” and “the most important” one yet. “The Netherlands became the first country to agree to provide Ukraine with F-16s after training. I am very grateful,” he added.
Even with the news it will take months until Ukraine will be able to use the jets.
The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement published Sunday it had agreed to provide F-16s. Conditions for the transfer include training Ukrainian personnel, setting up infrastructure and logistics, and receiving the necessary authorization, it said.
It is not clear yet how many aircraft the Netherlands will provide.
“At this moment, the Netherlands still owns 42 F-16s. Out of these 42, we need planes to help training in Denmark and later on in Romania,” Rutte said. He added that the Netherlands would look into whether all of the remaining planes could be supplied but stated that he could not yet give a definitive number.
Zelensky traveled on to Denmark after visiting the Netherlands where he met Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
“Today we announce that we will provide 19 F-16 jets to Ukraine, we believe Danish fighter jets will help protect your skies,” Frederiksen said.
“The aim of this delivery is to protect Ukraine. We plan to provide the jets closer to the new year, about six of them, then eight in the next year and then another five.”
The meetings come after a US official on Friday said the US had committed to approving the transfer of F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine as soon as training is complete.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Saturday that Ukrainian pilots had begun training.
F-16s are single-engine, multirole jet aircraft, meaning they can be used in air-to-air or ground-attack missions.