Blinken Announces Ukraine Getting Fighter Jets From Denmark, Netherlands

Blinken Announces Ukraine Getting Fighter Jets From Denmark, Netherlands
Four Dutch F-16s fly near the Leeuwarden Air Base near Leeuwarden, Netherlands, on Sept. 25, 2014. (Vincent Jannink/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON—Ukraine is in the process of getting fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced.

At the annual NATO Summit on July 10, Mr. Blinken said that U.S.-made F-16s are being transferred from those alliance members to Kyiv “as we speak.”

Ukraine will be able to fly them in the summer, U.S. President Joe Biden, Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a statement.

This development was announced one day after President Biden said that some NATO members, including the United States, will be sending Ukraine five missile defense systems, as it has been fending off Russia’s invasion for more than two years.

The summit will also feature a tighter commitment to Ukraine’s joining NATO, which consists of 32 members.

Ukraine already has been using F-16s in its war against Russia.

Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway have committed to providing Ukraine with more than 60 U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to help it fend off Russian attacks. Ukrainian pilots are currently undergoing training to fly the warplanes ahead of the deliveries, expected to start later this year.

Norway, which is one of the world’s biggest donors to Ukraine, will donate six F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store announced on July 10.

“We aim to start the donations during 2024,” he said.

Mr. Gahr Store said Kyiv’s “ability to defend itself against attacks from the air is absolutely crucial in its defensive battle against Russia.”

Last year, he said during a trip to Kyiv that Norway would donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, but he didn’t specify how many.

After 42 years of service, the Nordic NATO member phased out its aging fleet of F-16 fighters in 2021 and is replacing them with new F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Moscow could consider launching strikes at facilities in NATO countries if they host the warplanes used in Ukraine.

“If they are stationed at air bases outside the Ukrainian borders and used in combat, we will have to see how and where to strike the assets used in combat against us,” Mr. Putin said last year. “It poses a serious danger of NATO being further drawn into the conflict.”

In March, the Russian leader again warned Ukraine’s Western allies against providing air bases from where the F-16s could launch sorties against the Kremlin’s forces. Those bases would become a “legitimate target,” he said.

“F-16s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and we will also need to take that into account while organizing our combat operations,” Mr. Putin said.

Ukraine has struck back with regular missile and drone attacks on Moscow-occupied territories and areas inside Russia.

The United States and other NATO allies have responded to the latest Russian offensive by allowing Ukraine to use weapons that they deliver to Kyiv to carry out limited attacks inside Russia. The decision could impede Moscow’s ability to concentrate its troops for a bigger offensive near Kharkiv and other border areas.

The United States has not always been in favor of Ukraine getting fighter jets.

In an interview with ABC News last year, President Biden said Ukraine “doesn’t need F-16s now.”

“I am ruling it out for now,” he said at the time.

Long shadowing the Biden administration’s calculation were worries that such a move could escalate tensions with Russia. U.S. officials also argued that learning to fly and logistically support the advanced F-16 would be difficult and time-consuming.

However, the U.S. position shifted to supporting Ukraine in getting the fighter jets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times