The Netherlands and Denmark will provide Ukraine with much sought-after F-16 aircraft, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Danish foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Speaking at a joint Dutch-Ukrainian press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at Eindhoven airport, Rutte said the two countries would “commit to delivering F-16 aircraft to Ukraine” once “the conditions for such a transfer have been met.”
Zelensky hailed the agreement as “historic” and “the most important” one yet. “The Netherlands became the first country to agree to provide Ukraine with F-16s after training. I am very grateful,” he added.
Even with the news it will take months until Ukraine will be able to use the jets.
The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement published Sunday said it had agreed to provide F-16 jets. Conditions for the transfer include training Ukrainian personnel, setting up infrastructure and logistics, and receiving the necessary authorization, it said.
The Danish statement did not specify how many jets the countries would deliver to Ukraine, and Rutte said the number remained unclear.
“At this moment, the Netherlands still owns 42 F-16s. Out of these 42, we need planes to help training in Denmark and later on in Romania,” the Dutch Prime Minister said. He added that the Netherlands would look into whether all of the remaining planes could be supplied but stated that he could not yet give a definitive number.
Rutte said that language training for Ukrainian service personnel was ongoing and military training in Denmark would begin soon.
It comes after a US official on Friday said the US had committed to approving the transfer of F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine as soon as training is complete.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov confirmed on Saturday that Ukrainian pilots had begun training.
Kyiv has urgently been calling on its Western allies to provide F-16 jets, as its slow-moving counteroffensive is hampered by Russian air superiority.
F-16s are single-engine, multirole jet aircraft, meaning they can be used in air-to-air or ground-attack missions.