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Zelenskyy: F-16 fighter jets will be in Ukrainian skies “this year”

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy announced that new fighter jets will enter service in Ukrainian skies this year as part of a Netherlands-led F-16 coalition.
F16 combat fighter jet to ukraine
A F-16 fighter jet. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Zelenskyy: F-16 fighter jets will be in Ukrainian skies “this year”

In a video address, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that the F-16 fighter jets will be in Ukrainian skies this year. The address was recorded in Kharkiv, where Zelenskyy and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited on 1 March.

“Today we have a new package of military support for our warriors from the Netherlands. By the way, the Netherlands is actively helping us with air defense, with the F-16 coalition. This year, new fighter jets will be in our skies, and we have to make this year an effective one in defending ourselves against Russian guided bombs, Russian aircraft, and their missiles,” Zelenskyy said.

In mid-February, Rutte stated: “We hope to transfer [the F-16s to Ukraine] as soon as possible. Twenty-four of them, maybe more, but at least 24.”​

Previously, CNN reported that the first Ukrainian pilots undertaking US F-16 training were expected to graduate by May 2023, with a dozen other airmen progressing in groups through August as part of a coordinated fighter jet supply effort. The completion date for the training of EU-trained Ukrainian pilots has not been reported.

Earlier, regarding Ukraine’s future use of the F-16 jets, NATO chief Stoltenberg said Ukraine has the right to self-defense, including striking legitimate Russian military targets outside its borders.

Security agreement

On 1 March in Kharkiv, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Dutch PM Rutte signed a ten-year security agreement, reinforcing the Netherlands’ commitment to provide €2 billion in military aid to Ukraine in 2024 and continuing defense support over the next decade.

The agreement, part of the G7’s Joint Declaration to support Ukraine adopted earlier at the NATO summit in Vilnius, focuses on military equipment provision, economic recovery, countering hybrid threats, intelligence, cybersecurity, combating organized crime, protecting critical infrastructure, and supporting Ukraine’s cultural heritage.

Zelenskyy and Rutte sign long-term security pact between Ukraine and Netherlands

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