The Netherlands is planning to hand over its entire fleet of F-16s fighter jets to Ukraine to help it fight off Russia, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed in a social media post.
It comes shortly after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed alongside the Ukrainian leader that the country would be sending aircraft to Ukraine, although no figures were given regarding how many were to be delivered.
Writing on Twitter, Zelenskyy described the jets as being handed over to keep “Russian terrorists away from Ukrainian cities and towns”.
Today, we took another step to strengthen Ukraine's air shield. F-16s.
These jets will be used to keep Russian terrorists away from Ukrainian cities and towns.@MinPres Mark Rutte and I reached an agreement on the number of F-16s to be transferred to Ukraine once our pilots and…
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) August 20, 2023
“Mark Rutte and I reached an agreement on the number of F-16s to be transferred to Ukraine once our pilots and engineers have completed their training,” he added. “[It will be] 42 jets. And this is just the beginning.”
However, according to Reuters, the Netherlands only owns 42 F-16s in total, with just 24 of the advanced US-made combat aircraft being listed by the country’s government as being deployable in a military role.
Officials within the Rutte Government have so far failed to say how many of the jets the country is willing to donate, although it is expecting to upgrade its military air force to include US-made F-35s in the near future.
Ukraine has given up on being able to deploy American advanced F-16 fighter jets this year, a spokesman for the country’s air force has said. https://t.co/yP765Cb1r1
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 17, 2023
Confirmation that the Netherlands will send F-16s to Ukraine in the next few months comes after complaints from the Zelenskyy administration regarding delays of fighter jet deliveries.
One statement from a Ukrainian air force official that the country did not expect to be able to deploy the advanced fighter jet this year despite the best efforts of those involved gained significant media attention in the West last week.
What followed was a flurry of announcements from NATO-linked governments, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowing to help fast-track F-16s for Ukraine, while the Netherlands and Denmark both pledged to send aircraft.
Zelenskyy has now shifted his attention to Sweden, putting pressure on the country to hand over some of its Saab Gripen fighter jets.
Speaking on August 20, the Ukrainian president said that he was in active talks with the Swedish government over the planes.
The strong growth of summer vegetation is impairing Ukraine’s offensive against Russia, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) has claimed. https://t.co/JCakLEk5fj
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 4, 2023