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20 Jan, 2023 14:23

EU country ‘open-minded’ on F-16 jets for Ukraine – media

The Netherlands will consider delivering the planes if Kiev asks for them, ANP reported
EU country ‘open-minded’ on F-16 jets for Ukraine – media

The Netherlands would consider delivering US-made F-16 jet fighters to Ukraine to aid its fight with Russia if Kiev formally requested the aircraft, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Thursday, as quoted by the ANP news agency. Kiev’s pleas for Western-designed planes have so far been ignored. 

Hoekstra reportedly said at a parliamentary debate that the government would view such a request with “an open mind.” He added that the country saw “no taboos” regarding certain military equipment but would only donate the weapons if Ukraine asked for them.

Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine in late February, citing the need to protect the people of Donbass and Kiev’s failure to implement the 2014-15 Minsk peace accord. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has since been requesting NATO to provide his country with fighter planes and other heavy weapons.

In March, Poland proposed to transfer its Soviet-era MiG-29 jets to the US so that Washington could later donate them to Ukraine. But the Pentagon rejected the idea at the time as “high risk” and lacking “a substantive rationale.”

“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said last year. 

Slovakia had also considered transferring its MiG-29 to Ukraine, but the deal has not yet been finalized. Slovakian Foreign Minister Ratislav Kacer said last month that his country was still negotiating the delivery with Kiev, as well as with the US and other NATO members. 

Mikhail Podoliak, an adviser to Zelensky, said in September that North Macedonia would provide Kiev with unnamed planes. Regional media reported at the time that the jets in question may have been four Su-25 aircraft. 

Moscow has repeatedly said the “flooding” of Ukraine with foreign arms would not alter the course of the conflict and only lead to more deaths. Russia also said that its forces would treat foreign weapon systems in Ukraine as legitimate targets.