British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have agreed to build an international alliance to supply Kiev with F-16 fighter jets.
The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, Rishi Sunak and Mark Rutte, have agreed to build an “international coalition” to provide fighter jet support to Ukraine, a key component of military equipment that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has long sought from Western allies. Support his country’s fight against the Russian forces.
“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Rutte have agreed that they will work to build an international coalition to provide Ukraine with combat air capabilities, supporting everything from training to the purchase of F-16s,” a spokesperson for Sunak’s Downing Street office said in a statement. Tuesday after a meeting at the Council of Europe summit in Iceland.
“The prime minister reiterated his belief that the right place for Ukraine is NATO, and leaders agreed on the importance of Allies providing long-term security assistance to Ukraine to ensure it can deter future attacks,” the spokesperson said.
Al Jazeera’s John Psaropoulos reported at the time that most NATO members in Europe maintained the possibility of sending their F-16s to Ukraine, even as President Joe Biden said as recently as January that the United States would not.
According to Saropoulos, air defense experts say the US-made F-16 fighter jets will give Ukraine an advantage over the Russian Air Force, but only if they are combined with powerful missiles and targeting information, which the West would also have to provide and which could be a risk. More actively drawing Ukraine’s Western allies into the war.
Rutte said in a tweet on Tuesday that he had spoken with Sunak about issues “we work together and, of course, about our continued joint support for Ukraine in the face of terrible Russian aggression.” The Dutch prime minister did not mention providing support and training for combat aircraft.
The United Kingdom remains one of the main partners of the Netherlands. I spoke in Reykjavik with the Prime Minister @employee About the issues we are working on together and, of course, about our continued joint support for Ukraine in the face of terrible Russian aggression. pic.twitter.com/M8ItmkElWh
– Mark Root (MinPres) May 16, 2023
Western countries have been wary about supplying advanced fighter jets to Ukraine, fearing that their use could escalate the war. But after visiting Sunak at his country home at Checkers outside London on Monday, Zelensky said “work on the fighter jet alliance” was “moving forward actively”.
Great Britain – meet with @employee. He talked about defense and very important British leadership in the military coalitions.
I am grateful to 🇬🇧 for the decision to train our pilots. We are creating an alliance to train pilots for modern western aircraft.
We continue our work… pic.twitter.com/BFznW8dNhf
– Volodymyr Zelensky (@ZelenskyyUa) May 15, 2023
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country had “opened the door” to training Ukrainian fighter pilots, even if he ruled out sending any warplanes to Ukrainian forces.
“We have opened the door to pilot training…with many other European countries also ready. I think discussions are underway with the Americans,” Macron said in a televised interview with TF1.
“Training can start from now,” he said, without giving further details.
Dutch news agency NOS reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Rutte said on May 4, during Zelensky’s visit to the Netherlands, that the supply of F-16s was under discussion between the United Kingdom, Denmark and Belgium, while discussions were also taking place between Amsterdam and London. On the issue of combat aircraft.
In a speech to a Council of Europe summit in Reykjavík, Iceland, earlier Tuesday, Zelensky once again called on Western allies to help bolster Ukraine’s air defenses, particularly in light of the reported success of shooting down several Russian hypersonic missiles fired at Kiev. Overnight.
“Ukraine’s territory is large and to make air defense results like last night the norm for the whole country, we need additional air defense systems and missiles. We also need modern combat aircraft, without which an air defense system would not be perfect. I am sure we will We’ll get there.”
Later, in his evening address, Zelensky called the pledge announced by Sunak and Ruti to provide fighter jets “a good start for the alliance” and added: “Thank you all.”
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