The Netherlands is “seriously considering” sending F-16s to Ukraine

FILE PHOTO. Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky addresses members of the Netherlands parliament (REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw) (PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/)

Netherlands is “seriously considering” sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine but has not yet made any final decision, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.

Earlier this week, the Netherlands said it wanted to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 as soon as possible.

Asked if the country will send fighter jets to Ukraine, Rutte told a press conference that no final decision has been made, but added that “If you start training it is obvious that it is something that is being seriously considered.”

Any decision on sending F-16s depends on US approval to do so, Rutte said, adding that the Netherlands may have fighter jets to cede as it is currently phasing out its F-16s.

According to data from the Ministry of Defense, the country currently has 24 F-16 fighters operational, which will be retired by mid-2024. Another 18 aircraft are currently available for sale, of which of which 12 have been provisionally sold.

Last Friday, the President of the United States, Joe Bidensupported the training programs for Ukrainian pilots in F-16s and the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelensky, assured that the planes would not be used to cross into Russian territory.

The West says it wants to help Ukraine defeat Russia, but has repeatedly insisted it does not want to trigger a direct confrontation between the US-led NATO military alliance and Russia.

Stoltenberg says Russia war brings Ukraine closer to NATO

Jens Stoltenberg with Volodimir Zelensky (Reuters)
Jens Stoltenberg with Volodimir Zelensky (Reuters) (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER /)

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenbergconsidered that Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is bringing that country closer to the Atlantic Alliance, as the interoperability of its forces with the allies is increasing through the transfer of military equipment.

“They are getting closer to NATO when it comes to managing the different NATO systems”Stoltenberg stressed during a conference organized by the German Marshall Fund think tank on the upcoming allied summit to be held in Vilnius in July.

Asked if he believes that the invasion of Russia in February 2022 makes it easier for Ukraine to join the Alliance, the Norwegian politician replied “Yes and no”.

First, he noted that “everyone has realized that becoming a member in the middle of the war is not on the agenda,” adding that the question really is “what will happen when the war ends in some way or other”.

“The war ensures that Ukraine is getting even closer to NATO,” stressed Stoltenberg, who stated that “When we start training pilots (Ukrainians to drive American F16 fighters), of course, then there will be more interoperability, they will be closer to NATO by using more and more NATO equipment.”

Stoltenberg estimated that right now Ukraine “lives in two worlds”, the former Soviet and the Western, due to the combination of military equipment they use.

In this regard, he said that at the Vilnius summit they hope to adopt a multi-year plan for the allies to help Kiev “in the transition from Soviet-era doctrines and equipment standards to NATO doctrines, equipment, and standards.”

“This sounds a bit technical, but it is extremely important,” he stressed.

Likewise, he indicated that the allies are conducting consultations “on the way forward and how to address the ambitions of the Ukrainians to join NATO”, so “no one can say exactly what the final decision of the summit will be on this issue. ”.

“The most urgent and important task now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign and independent nation. Because if Ukraine does not prevail, then there will be no accession issue to discuss, ”she summed up.

The Allied Secretary General also noted that sometimes “we are extremely focused” on whether a certain type of tank or F16 fighter jets will be delivered to Ukraine, while “underestimating” the importance of ensuring that all equipment being shipped work properly.

Finally, looking forward to his successor when he leaves office, Stoltenberg noted that “the most important thing any NATO Secretary General should do is keep this family together.”

“And of course that is not so easy, as it never has been,” he concluded.

(With information from Reuters and EFE)

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