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Ukraine can use our F-16s to strike Russian territory, Danish foreign minister says

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 30, 2024 2:27 PM 3 min read
Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen (L) and Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen observe a demonstration of Bohdana artillery systems, which are produced in Ukraine, and are introduced to military equipment during a visit to Lviv on April 27, 2024. (Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine may use Danish-supplied F-16 jets to strike military targets in Russian territory, as this would be "within the rules of war," Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels on May 30.

Denmark founded the "fighter jet coalition" for Ukraine with the Netherlands in July 2023. The group of countries pledged to provide Kyiv with F-16s and help train Ukrainian pilots and technical staff to operate the U.S.-made fourth-generation jets.

The first batch of Danish F-16s is expected to be handed over to Ukraine this summer.

Over recent weeks, Ukraine has called for its partners to allow strikes on Russian territory with Western weapons, a move that Washington and Berlin, the top two providers of military aid to Ukraine, have long been against.

"This is not a carte blanche for Ukraine to use the F-16 to make arbitrary attacks into Russia," Rasmussen told reporters.

"We are talking about an opportunity to weaken the aggressor by taking military installations out onto Russian territory."

"It is completely within the rules of war that a country that is attacked must be able to answer for itself," Rasmussen said.

"There is also no Ukrainian interest in taking over the kind of warfare you have from the Russian side, where you go after residential properties," referring to Russia's indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Belgium to provide Ukraine with 30 F-16 aircraft by 2028, first to arrive in 2024
The announcement accompanies news that President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Belgium on May 28 to sign a bilateral security agreement.

Rasmussen also dismissed concerns that the move would escalate the war. "If we are talking about a risk of an actual attack on our territory, then it is not something I am worried about," Rasmussen said.

Russia's Ambassador to Denmark Vladimir Barbin released a statement on May 29, claiming that "the use of Copenhagen-supplied weapons by Ukraine against targets inside Russia could lead to an uncontrolled development of the conflict."

Barbin was responding to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who said on May 28 that Ukraine is allowed to use Danish weapons on Russian territory "if it is within international law."

Calls for Ukraine to be allowed to strike military targets on Russian territory with Western weapons have grown after Russia launched a new offensive in Kharkiv Oblast on May 10, with 30,000 troops reportedly involved in the operation.

Kyiv said it was unable to launch preemptive strikes on Russian forces amassing on the border due to the restrictions on how Western weapons may be used.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted a declaration on May 27 that supported an end to restrictions that prohibited Ukraine's use of Western-supplied weapons against military targets inside Russia.

The next day, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and said that Ukraine should be allowed to strike military bases on Russian territory from which Moscow carries out missile attacks against Ukraine.

Scholz said at the press conference that Ukraine could use German-supplied weapons "within the framework of international law."

Ukraine urges allies to lift Western arms ban on hitting targets inside Russia. Will they?
Following a new Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine is increasingly raising pressure on its allies, urging them to lift restrictions on the use of Western-provided weapons against military targets inside Russia. Months before the offensive, Kyiv had publicly pledged not to use Western-made…
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