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Greece to continue Ukraine support but won’t send F-16 jets to Ukraine, PM says

Greek PM Mitsotakis affirms Greece’s support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, but says his country is not ready to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, citing concerns over Greece’s own defense capabilities amid tensions with neighboring Türkiye.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks at March 25 parade in Athens in 2016. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/DTRocks
Greece to continue Ukraine support but won’t send F-16 jets to Ukraine, PM says

In an interview with Rzeczpospolita (RP), Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed his country’s stance on the war in Ukraine. Mitsotakis stated that Greece has been supporting Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion, but is not prepared to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets citing Greek tensions with Türkiye.

Ukraine seeks F-16 fighter jets to address Russia’s air superiority, with Russian aircraft outmatching Ukraine’s defenses in range. Last fall, the US approved F-16 transfers from Denmark and the Netherlands, pending pilot training completion. Several European countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, and Romania, are assisting in training Ukrainian pilots. Currently, Ukrainian pilots are training in Denmark, Britain, France, and the US, with some of them expected to be combat-ready by this summer. Yet, only about six of the promised 45 F-16s are anticipated to be delivered upon their return.

Refine starting In September 2023, Greece joined the so-called aviation coalition to support the training of Ukrainian pilots, not intending to donate its F-16s.

In his remarks to RP, Mitsotakis was clear that Greece is not prepared to provide Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets, despite media reports to the contrary.

“First of all, I would like to clarify that we are not ready to transfer F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. Such information has appeared in the media, but it is not true,” the Greek leader stated.

The Greek Prime Minister, however, reiterated Greece’s commitment to further support Ukraine:

However, I will emphasize that we have supported and continue to support Ukraine. We made this decision at the very beginning of the [full-scale] invasion. Greece is a country that not only respects, but also defends the principles of the international order. And it has always been on the right side of history. This is also the case now, when Ukraine is defending itself against a brutal Russian invasion,” Mitsotakis said.

While Greece has historical and cultural ties with Russia, Mitsotakis made clear that his government is firmly opposed to the Kremlin regime’s actions, saying:

“With Russia, we have historically strong ties, cultural, religious, but we are definitely opposed to the Kremlin regime,” he said.

The Prime Minister highlighted Greece’s support for Ukraine, stating that the country has supplied a significant quantity of 155mm artillery shells, addressing Ukraine’s serious shortages in artillery rounds without delving into further operational details.

During his visit to Odesa in early March, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged European unity and stable support for Ukraine, as a Russian missile strike at the city’s port killed five during his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy some 150 meters away from the impact site.

Greece needs its F-16s as deterrence for Türkiye

However, Mitsotakis emphasized that Greece must balance its support for Ukraine with the need to maintain its own defense capabilities, especially given its complex relationship with neighboring Türkiye, stating that Greece “must ensure that aiding Ukraine does not weaken our strong deterrence capacity, particularly because of our neighbor.

Mitsotakis acknowledged the ongoing tensions with Türkiye but expressed optimism that the two NATO allies can maintain good relations despite their differences.

We have a very complex issue of delimiting maritime zones in the Aegean Sea, in the eastern Mediterranean. For dozens of years, it has not been possible to solve it. But this does not mean that we have to be in a constant state of heightened vigilance, reacting to Turkish provocations,” he told Rzeczpospolita.

Greek support for Ukraine

Earlier this month, Greece supported the Czech ammo initiative by agreeing to send thousands of “inactive but usable” ammunition rounds to Ukraine, with the deal valued at $163 million.

Earlier, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide announced that Norway, alongside Denmark and the Netherlands, plans to equip Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets enhanced for long-range strikes.

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