THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The United States has approved Dutch deliveries of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine, the Dutch defense minister said on Friday. This is a big win for Kiev, even if the fighter jets do not receive immediate delivery affecting the nearly 18-month period War.
“I welcome the US decision to open the way for the delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine. “It allows us to continue training Ukrainian pilots,” Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We remain in close contact with European partners to decide on the next steps.”
Ukraine has long argued that the sophisticated fighter gives them a combat advantage. Recently, a long-awaited project was launched counteroffensive against Kremlin forces without air support, leaving his troops at the mercy of Russian aviation and artillery.
In addition to supplying the fighter jets, Ukraine’s allies must also train their pilots. Washington says the F-16s are like the advanced US Abrams tankwill be crucial in the long run while Kyiv faces Russia.
The Netherlands is part of a western coalition that also includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom that committed in July to hire Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s to train.
Washington has to give its blessing because the planes are made in the United States.
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a message on X that the US’s approval to send F-16s to Ukraine represents “an important milestone” in Ukraine’s defence.
It was not immediately clear when the first F-16s could be delivered to Ukraine.
Next to the Netherlands Denmark said in June that training for Ukrainian pilots had started and the country was considering supplying jets to Kiev, but that pilots were needed six to eight months of training before a potential plane donation can become a reality.
In a statement to Danish media, Defense Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said the government had said on several occasions that a donation was “a natural step after training”.
Meanwhile, Russia’s air defenses halted drone strikes on central Moscow and on the country’s ships in the Black Sea, officials said on Friday, blaming Ukraine for the attack attempts.
Defense systems shot down a Ukrainian drone over central Moscow early Friday and some fragments fell onto an exhibition site, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
It said the drone was shot down around 4 a.m. (01:00 GMT) and there were no injuries or burns from the fragments.
However, flights were temporarily suspended at all four major Moscow airports.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said some of the fragments fell on the site of the Expocentre, an exhibition complex next to the Moscow City Commercial and Office Complex hit twice by drones last month.
The area is about 4 kilometers west of the Kremlin. The Defense Ministry called the latest incident “another terrorist attack by the Kiev regime.”
Naval forces also destroyed a Ukrainian naval drone that was attempting to attack Russian ships in the Black Sea, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of Sevastopol late Thursday, the ministry said
The drone was shot down by a patrol boat and a corvette, it said.
It was not possible to verify the claims.
Heintz reported from Tallinn, Estonia.