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Zelenskiy Visits Netherlands in Push to Boost Air Defences

WorldZelenskiy Visits Netherlands in Push to Boost Air Defences

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday in an ongoing push to boost Ukraine’s air defences, days after the United States approved the possible delivery of F-16 fighter jets by the Netherlands and Denmark.

The Netherlands, together with Denmark, has in recent months led international efforts to train Ukrainian pilots for F-16’s and to ultimately deliver the jets to help counter the air superiority of Russia, whose forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“The main issue is F-16 for Ukraine to protect our people from Russian terror. We are getting stronger”, Zelenskiy said in a post on Telegram.

The agenda also includes the Global Peace Summit and bringing Russia to justice, Zelenskiy said.

Zelenskiy will meet outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a military air base in Eindhoven, Rutte’s office said without providing further details.

Rutte said in May the Netherlands was seriously considering handing over F-16’s, but it’s not clear how many they would have available and when.

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on Saturday said training had begun for Ukrainians to operate F-16’s, but added it would take at least six months and possibly longer to also train engineers and mechanics.

Training will take place in Denmark and Romania, officials from a coalition of 11 nations have said.

Ukraine, which expects several dozens of pilots to be trained, said last week it did not expect to be able to use F-16’s this autumn or winter.

The Netherlands could deliver F-16’s as its armed forces are transitioning to newer F-35 fighters.

According to figures from the Dutch defence ministry, the Netherlands currently has 24 operational F-16s which will be phased out by mid-2024. Another 18 of the jets made by Lockheed Martin are currently available for sale, of which 12 have been provisionally sold.

On Saturday Zelenskiy was in Sweden, where he discussed the possibility of receiving Gripen jets.

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