UK and Netherlands to help Ukraine with F-16 jets
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, have agreed to consolidate their efforts to create an "international coalition" to help Ukraine purchase American F-16 fighter jets and train pilots.
This was agreed upon during a meeting at the Fourth Summit of the Council of Europe, which is taking place in Iceland this year.
The official page of Downing Street reports.
"The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Rutte agreed they would work to build international coalition to provide Ukraine with combat air capabilities, supporting with everything from training to procuring F-16 jets," the message says.
"The Prime Minister 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 statement emphasized.
The President of Ukraine positively reacted to the news in his traditional address, noting that the coalition, in addition to Britain and the Netherlands, was also supported by French President Emmanuel Macron. "This is a good start," Zelenskyi said.
The international coalition of fighter jets was the top topic of Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyi's recent unannounced visit to the Chequers residence, UK. After meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the Ukrainian President noted a new level of discussion on providing Ukraine with fighter jets.
"It’s a very important topic for us because we can’t control the sky… We – the partners, and Rishi knows all the details, what went on our battlefield. We want to create this jets coalition … and I see that in the closest time you will hear some, I think, very important decisions but we have to work a little bit more on it," the President of Ukraine stated.
Earlier, the United Kingdom confirmed its commitment to train Ukrainian pilots according to NATO standards. Belgium has also announced that it will join the training of pilots from Ukraine, De Morgen reports. However, the country is not yet able to provide its aircraft.
Ukraine has repeatedly stated its need for F-16 fighter jets to protect its airspace from Russian attacks and is using every opportunity to advocate for the aircraft delivery to Ukrainian defenders. Despite the efforts and intensified preparations for a counteroffensive, the Ukrainian side has not yet received a single F-16 fighter jet from its partners.