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Netherlands to Send F-16 Fighter Jets to Ukraine ‘Without Delay’

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KYIV: The Netherlands will begin sending F-16 fighter planes to Ukraine “without delay,” Foreign Minister Caspar Veldkamp said during a visit to Kyiv at the weekend.

Ukraine hopes the advanced US-made jets will help it gain air superiority over Russia and better protect its troops and cities from daily bombardments by Moscow’s troops.

In his first international trip since becoming foreign minister last week, Veldkamp said the Netherlands was poised to send the jets after the necessary export licenses were granted last week.

“Now that we’ve got clearance on the first F-16s, they will be delivered without delay,” Veldkamp said Saturday in a press conference in the Ukrainian capital.

Details of the trip were kept secret until Sunday for security reasons.

He did not provide further details or state a specific date when the first of 24 promised F-16s would arrive in Ukraine.

Veldkamp is part of a new ruling coalition in which Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) is the largest party.

Sworn in last week after months of negotiations, the new government – as well as Wilders himself – has reaffirmed the Netherlands’ support to Ukraine.

Kyiv has been calling for F-16s since shortly after Russia invaded in February 2022.

Ukrainian pilots and crews have been undertaking months of training on the advanced jets in NATO countries to prepare for their arrival.

Several NATO countries have pledged to send the US-made jets – touted for their precision, speed and range.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with AFP in May that Kyiv needed around 130 to secure air parity with Russia.

But Western countries have pledged fewer than 100.

Russia has said its forces will target any Western military hardware, including F-16s, shipped to Kyiv.

Last week its military claimed to have hit three Ukrainian air bases in as many days, raising concerns about Kyiv’s ability to protect its airfields ahead of the arrival of the F-16s.

Source: AFP/fs

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