Ukraine, Denmark, and the Netherlands appeared to reach a milestone agreement to give the invaded nation F-16 jets, with the first delivery coming as early this year but it comes with a condition of no strikes beyond Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.
President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the progress on the F-16 deal during an in-person visit to Denmark and the Netherlands at the weekend, enthusiastically claiming the Dutch government was going to hand over 42 F-16s, the nation’s entire stock of the aircraft. The Dutch were more circumspect and didn’t put a specific number or even timeline for delivery at the moment of announcement.
The Danes were more specific, saying they hoped to have sent six F-16s to Ukraine by the end of this year, an announcement that will have surprised some observers for whom the conventional wisdom was that the donation of advanced Western fighter jets to Ukraine was years away. They say they will eventually give 19 jets in all.
Zelensky Claims Netherlands to Send Entire Fleet of F-16 Fighter Jets After Meeting with Dutch PMhttps://t.co/n4EzXTUR73
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Yet this major development in support for Ukraine comes with strict conditions of use, and ones that will be in sharper focus after a Ukrainian-backed counter-invasion of Russia earlier this year ruffled feathers in the West as it appeared to have been launched with donated military hardware. Denmark’s defence minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said on Monday that the F-16s, once transferred to Ukraine, must not stray from their own internationally recognised borders and only be used to re-take Russian-occupied land.
He said, Reuters reports: “We donate weapons under the condition that they are used to drive the enemy out of the territory of Ukraine. And no further than that… Those are the conditions, whether it’s tanks, fighter planes or something else.” Ukraine has made clear it intends to roll back Russia’s invasions to the 1991 borders of the state, including taking back what Russia has occupied since 2014.
Ukraine said the arrival of the F-16s would help them push back Russia’s invasion, with President Zelensky saying the aircraft would “produce fresh results for Ukraine”. Despite big early promises, Ukraine’s counteroffensive push this year has been slow, with Ukrainian leaders blaming the lack of progress on the West’s failure to give them the jets sooner.
As reported, Valery Zaluzhny, the head of Ukraine’s armed forces said in July: “Every day, every meter is given by blood… I do not need 120 planes. I’m not going to threaten the whole world… But they are needed. Because there is no other way… a lot of people die every day — a lot. Just because no decision has been made yet”.
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