In a significant move to bolster Ukraine’s defenses against Russia’s invasion, Denmark and the Netherlands have pledged to provide F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv. This commitment, announced during surprise visits by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, marks a major step in equipping Ukraine with advanced weaponry. The delivery of these jets, however, is contingent on the completion of pilot training in Ukraine, as stated by the Dutch and Danish prime ministers after separately hosting the Ukrainian leader.
The Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, confirmed that her country would transfer 19 of Denmark’s 30 F-16s to Ukraine. Frederiksen, alongside her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, has called on other nations to support Kyiv by providing aircraft to assist in reclaiming territory occupied by Russian troops since the invasion began in early 2022. With over 70 Ukrainian service members currently undergoing training in Denmark, the first squadron of six planes may depart by the New Year. This move is seen as a solid, unbreakable commitment by Denmark and the Netherlands, making them the first to promise fighter jets to Ukraine.
Denmark and Netherlands Pledge F-16s to Ukraine Amid Russian Invasion
Denmark has committed to sending 19 F-16s to Kyiv and the Netherlands has also pledged fighter jets in a significant move to equip Ukraine with advanced weaponry to counter Russia’s invasion. This decision comes following surprise visits by the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and after obtaining necessary approval from the US.
Strengthening Ukraine’s Defense
Upon successful training of Ukrainian pilots, the Dutch and Danish F-16s will be dispatched to Ukraine. Danish Premier Mette Frederiksen confirmed that Denmark will transfer 19 of their 30 F-16s to Ukraine. She also mentioned that an initial squadron of six planes may depart Denmark around the New Year and that over 70 Ukrainian service members are currently training in Denmark.
Frederiksen joined Mark Rutte, her Dutch counterpart, in a call for other nations to assist Kyiv with aircraft to aid in reclaiming territory seized by Russian troops since the invasion in early 2022. "Together with the Netherlands, we are the first country that can make a serious, unbreakable commitment to provide fighter jets," said Frederiksen during a press conference with Zelenskiy.
The Netherlands’ Contribution
While Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, declined to disclose how many of the Netherlands’ 42 F-16s would be donated, he hinted that it would be in the near future. "I cannot give the exact number, but we still have 42 in stock here in the Netherlands," Rutte said. He also stated that while the jets wouldn’t be sent next month, they would hopefully be dispatched soon after.
The U.S. Influence
The US had initially resisted supplying more potent weaponry, including fighter jets and long-range cruise missiles, for months. However, they changed their stance in May due to pressure from Ukraine and other NATO members. On Friday, Denmark and the Netherlands received a letter from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken approving the deliveries, which is a prerequisite for changing ownership of the jets.
This move by Denmark and the Netherlands marks a significant step in equipping Ukraine with advanced weaponry to counter the Russian invasion. The commitment to providing fighter jets not only strengthens Ukraine’s defenses but also represents a joint stand by NATO countries against Russia’s invasion. However, the timing and execution of these plans will be crucial and should be closely monitored in the coming months.