Denmark and the Netherlands will supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. This was announced by the heads of government of the two countries on Sunday at meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He spoke of a breakthrough. According to Ukrainian information, a total of 61 aircraft are involved.
19 aircraft are to come from Denmark, the first six by the turn of the year, as Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference with Selensekyj at the Danish air force base in Skrydstrup. The plan is to deliver eight next year and five more the following year.
The Ukrainian had previously secured the commitment for further US F-16 fighter jets in the Netherlands. He expects 42 aircraft, said Selenskyj after the meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Eindhoven. The head of the Kiev presidential office, Andriy Yermak, later made it clear that this number only referred to the Dutch commitment.
However, according to the Dutch Ministry of Defence, only 24 of the 42 F-16 jets in the Netherlands are currently operational. Initially, there was no information from The Hague about the number of promised aircraft and the time of delivery.
"One of the greatest heroes of our time"
"I'm very grateful," Zelenskyj replied to Frederiksen's commitment. 19 F-16 aircraft are a very effective support. The social democrat praised Selenskyj as "one of the greatest heroes of our time". The Ukrainian had already completed a trip to Sweden on Saturday. According to the Ritzau news agency, he should continue his visit to Denmark on Monday.
A statement from the Danish Ministry of Defense said it would agree to the transfer of the F-16 aircraft in close cooperation with the US and other partners if the conditions for such a transfer were met. This includes the successful selection and training of Ukrainian F-16 personnel as well as the necessary authorizations, infrastructure and logistics.
Training for Ukrainian pilots
According to Frederiksen, 70 Ukrainian pilots are currently being trained on F16 fighter jets in Denmark. Zelenskyj emphasized in a statement that work was being done to speed up the training. "We also talked today about the possibility of expanding the training mission," he said.
Zelenskyy has long been campaigning for his country to receive modern Western fighter jets in order to be able to effectively repel the Russian war of aggression. So far, however, the delivery of F-16s to the USA, where the aircraft were developed, had failed. However, Washington recently cleared the way for supplies from third countries.
"Today will be concrete. You will be in the Ukrainian sky. Thank you Netherlands! Thank you Mark! Thank you everyone who is helping," said Zelenskyj in Eindhoven. In the Netherlands, the F-16s are becoming obsolete as they are currently being replaced by F-35s.
Meeting with Queen Margrethe II.
Zelenskyj is expected to address the parliament in Copenhagen on Monday before receiving an audience with Queen Margrethe II. The Ukrainian presidential couple also met King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia in Sweden on Saturday.
Denmark and the Netherlands had previously declared their willingness to deliver the US-made F-16 fighter jet. A coalition led by the two countries formed within NATO in the summer to train Ukrainian pilots to use the F-16. Belgium and Norway are also considered possible suppliers of the US jets.
Denmark will work to persuade other countries to join the coalition, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry in Copenhagen.