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Zelensky visits Netherlands to discuss F-16s as US approves delivery

by Alexander Khrebet August 20, 2023 3:13 PM 2 min read
U.S. Air Force F16 fighter jets fly in formation during U.S.-Philippines joint air force exercises dubbed Cope Thunder at Clark Air Base on May 9, 2023, in Mabalacat, Philippines. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Aug. 20 that he had arrived in the Netherlands to discuss F-16 fighter jets with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

“The main issue is F-16s for Ukraine to protect our people from Russian terror. We are getting stronger. The agenda also includes the Global Peace Summit, the Peace Formula, and bringing the terrorist state to justice,” Zelensky said in a Telegram post following his arrival in the Netherlands with his wife, Olena Zelenska.

The Netherlands and Denmark confirmed on Aug. 18 they had received approval from the U.S. to hand over F-16s from their arsenal to Ukraine after pilot training was completed.

Ukraine has been campaigning for U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to help counter Russia's air superiority, with many believing that it is necessary to achieve success on the battlefield.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on Aug. 18 that Washington would approve the third-party transfer of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine after Ukrainian pilots complete training. The U.S. is working closely with its EU countries on all training program elements, including manuals, Sullivan said.

On the same day, the Danish Defense Ministry said that training would start later in August in cooperation with the "fighter jet coalition," comprised of 11 NATO countries.

Romania is also on the list for training sessions organized by the coalition.

Ukrainian pilots, engineers, and technicians have already started a six-month training session on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on national television on Aug. 19.

Zelensky’s visit to the Netherlands follows his visit to Sweden, where he said Ukrainian pilots had begun test flights on Swedish Gripen fighter jets.

During the visit, Zelensky and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson discussed the potential delivery of Gripens to Ukraine.

"We also talked about another strong Swedish machine, the Gripen aircraft. This is the pride of Sweden. And I am sure that Gripens can make our freedom much more secure," Zelensky said on Aug. 19.

Editorial: Arming Ukraine won’t escalate war. Reluctance to do so will
First it was the tanks, now it’s the fighter jets. As Ukraine braces for another possible major Russian offensive in the upcoming weeks, Western leaders are yet again coming up with a variety of excuses why this time, they cannot justify supplying F-16 and F-35 fighter jets to Ukraine.
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