EINDHOVEN, Netherlands — The Netherlands and Denmark introduced Sunday they’ll give F-16 warplanes to Ukraine, in a long-awaited announcement that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referred to as an essential motivation for his nation’s forces which can be embroiled in a troublesome counteroffensive towards 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 delicate fighter to provide it a fight edge. It not too long ago launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive towards the Kremlin’s forces with out air cowl, putting 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 combat for freedom towards Russia and its mindless aggression. Denmark’s help for Ukraine is unwavering, and with the donation of F-16 plane, Denmark is now main the best way,” Danish Protection Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen stated in an announcement.
Zelenskyy stated 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 stated stated the Netherlands has 42 of the jets, however stated some will probably be wanted for coaching functions.
When they’ll take to the skies over Zelenskyy’s nation additionally remained unclear, however Rutte stated he hopes will probably be quickly.
“The F-16s is not going to assist instantly now with the conflict effort. It’s anyway a long-term dedication from the Netherlands,” the Dutch chief stated. “We wish them to be lively and operational as quickly as potential. … Not for the subsequent month, that’s unimaginable, however hopefully quickly afterward.”
Zelenskyy referred to as the announcement a robust message to his forces.
‘’F16 will definitely give new vitality, confidence, and motivation to fighters and civilians. I’m positive it would ship new outcomes for Ukraine and your entire Europe,” he stated.
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 stated Friday that the coaching is beginning this month.
Officers have beforehand stated that Ukrainian pilots will want six to eight months of coaching.
On Friday, the Netherlands and Denmark stated the U.S. had approved them to ship American-made F-16s to Ukraine. Washington’s approval was seen as a serious increase for Kyiv, though the fighter jets gained’t have an effect any time quickly on the just about 18-month conflict.
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, consultants say.
In a video message earlier Sunday, Zelenskyy vowed a stern retaliation for a Russian missile strike yesterday 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.
Observe AP’s protection of the conflict in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine