First F-16 Jets En-route To Ukraine – Blinken

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The first F-16 fighter jets are on their way to Ukraine and will be flying sorties this summer, according to a statement from the Dutch and Danish governments that was released by the White House at the Nato summit.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store during a meeting with the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez during the NATO Summit 2024 in Washington, D.C.

Dick Schoof, the prime minister of the Netherlands, and Mette Frederiksen, his counterpart from Denmark, said the “transfer process” of F-16s to Kyiv was under way after months of pilot training and political negotiations.

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The two leaders said that “Ukraine will be flying operational F-16s this summer” – the first of about 85 of the combat aircraft that have been committed to Kyiv to turn around its fortunes on the battlefield, and Ukraine signalled more may be to come.

The long-awaited supply of F-16s is part of what Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said would be “a substantial package” of support for Ukraine, which includes the donation of four Patriot air defence systems, Nato-led training for Ukraine’s troops – and a commitment that Kyiv’s eventual path to Nato membership is “irreversible”.

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Allies also criticised China, with stronger language than used before, for assisting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “decisive enabler” of the war by supporting Moscow in its “no limits” partnership, and supplying components for military equipment and chemicals for explosives. “This increases the threat Russia poses to its neighbours and to Euro-Atlantic security,” they declared in the summit communique.

An announcement on F-16s had been expected at the same time as the summit, and the hope is that the fighters will be able to stifle Russian glide bomb attacks launched from warplanes operating up to 43 miles (70km) away that have been devastating frontline positions.

But it remains unclear how far Ukraine will be able to use F-16s to attack targets in Russian territory or airspace. The US had previously been concerned about the potential for escalation but partially relaxed its position to allow the bombing of targets inside Russia by long-range artillery.

Keir Starmer, the UK’s prime minister, said he was happy to see Ukraine use Storm Shadow missiles to attack targets inside Russia as long as they were used to defend itself, reconfirming existing UK policy. “It is for defensive purposes, but it is for Ukraine to decide how to deploy it for those defensive purposes,” he said.

Photo Credit: Getty

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