Dutch F-16 jets bound for Ukraine can strike Russia — Defense Minister

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The 24 F-16 fighter jets the Netherlands will transfer to Ukraine may be used to strike targets inside Russia, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in an interview with Politico on June 3 at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

The Netherlands would not impose Belgium-style restrictions, she said.

“We are applying the same principle that we have applied to every other delivery of capabilities, which is once we hand it over to Ukraine, it’s theirs to use," Ollongren said.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces could only strike military targets in Russia.

"We only ask them to comply with international law and the right to self-defense as stated in the U.N. Charter," she said.

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F-16 Fighters for Ukraine

The Netherlands and Denmark promised in August 2023 to jointly provide Ukraine with 61 American F-16 fighter jets. This was preceded by a transfer authorization from the United States.

Norway has also confirmed its intention to supply F-16s. Belgium will also provide Ukraine with F-16s, but in 2025.

The Netherlands announced its decision to begin preparations for the transfer of the first 18 aircraft to Ukraine in December, and later increased this number to 24. In total, the country has promised Kyiv 42 fighters.

Read also: Dutch foreign minister supports Ukraine's right to deploy F-16s over Russia

The tentative timeline for the delivery of the fighter jets to Ukraine was the first half of 2024.

The first F-16s would arrive in Ukraine around June 2024, Foreign Policy reported on Feb. 18, 2024, citing European officials. Commenting on this, the then spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, noted that it was impossible to talk about specific dates for the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine by foreign partners.

The first 10 Ukrainian pilots had completed basic flight, ground, and language training on F-16 fighters in Britain, the UK government announced on March 22. The military will now move on to advanced flight training provided by the French Air Force.

The Netherlands plans to start sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in fall, Ollongren said on May 6. At the same time, Danish Ambassador to Kyiv Ole Egberg Mikkelsen said that planes would arrive this summer.

Read also: Denmark permits Ukraine to use F-16 jets against Russian military targets

The first Western F-16 fighter jets would arrive in Ukraine within a few weeks, on May 10, The Standard reported, citing a high-ranking military source.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Kroo on May 28 said that the F-16s that Belgium will begin to provide to Ukraine in 2024 can only be used on Ukrainian territory.

On the same day, Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib announced that her country would send 30 F-16 fighters to Ukraine by 2028. The first planes, she said, would be sent “by the end of the year.”

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