The Netherlands and Denmark have announced that they will supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, in a move that could further escalate the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. The two European countries made the pledge on Sunday, during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to the Netherlands.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the Netherlands and Denmark would “commit to delivering F-16 aircraft to Ukraine and the Ukrainian Air Force” in cooperation with the U.S. and other allies, once “the conditions for such a transfer have been met”. He did not specify how many jets would be donated but said that the Netherlands had 42 F-16s available in total.
Zelenskiy welcomed the agreement as “historic” and “the most important” one yet. He said that the planes would help strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses and help its counter-offensive against Russia. But many believe that the F16 jets will further escalate the conflict.
The F-16 is a single-engine, multi-role jet aircraft that can perform air-to-air or ground-attack missions. It is widely used by NATO members and other countries around the world. Ukraine has been seeking F-16s from its Western allies for months, as it faces a disadvantage in the air against Russia’s more advanced fighters and bombers.
The delivery of F-16s to Ukraine will not be immediate, however, as it will take time to train Ukrainian pilots and personnel, as well as to set up the necessary infrastructure and logistics. Rutte said that language training for Ukrainian service members was ongoing and military training in Denmark would begin soon. The Danish foreign ministry also confirmed its commitment to providing F-16s in a statement on Sunday.