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UK, Netherlands agree on ‘international coalition’ to help Ukraine procure F-16 jets
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte have agreed to build an “international coalition” to help procure F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine, the British government has announced.
The statement published by the U.K. government on May 16 says that Sunak reiterated his belief that "Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO" and the leaders agreed on the importance of allies providing long-term security assistance to Ukraine to guarantee they can deter against future attacks.
The announcement came a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky hinted that Kyiv could soon receive F-16 fighter jets, saying he was hopeful of “very important” decisions on the subject with the help of the U.K.
Zelensky and Sunak held a two-hour talk on May 15 during the president's second visit to the U.K. since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion. At a joint press conference after the meeting, Sunak reportedly said that sending fighter jets to Ukraine was "not a straightforward thing," but London would be "a key part of the coalition countries," providing Kyiv with that support.
Any coalition of F-16 donors would likely be reliant on backing from the U.S. and Washington has recently ruled out sending F-16 jets to Ukraine for now, while U.S. officials have estimated the most expeditious time needed for training and delivery at 18 months.