Netherlands to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets as soon as possible

A pair of F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcons (serials J-005 and J-008) from the RNLAF's No 312 Squadron fly from Volkel Air Base - where the unit is headquartered - to the north of the Netherlands during a routine training sortie All images Frank Crebas

The Netherlands wants to give Ukrainian pilots F-16 training as soon as possible, Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Wednesday in a letter to parliament.

The training would be coordinated with Belgium, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, and other countries could join, Ollongren added.

On Tuesday, NATO’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said training Ukrainian pilots on Western F-16 fighter jets would not make NATO a party to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

A day earlier, senior Russian diplomats said the transfer of F-16 jets to Ukraine would raise the question of NATO’s role in the conflict.

Last Friday U.S. President Joe Biden endorsed training programmes for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy assured Biden that the planes would not be used to cross into Russian territory.

The West says it wants to help Ukraine defeat Russia but has repeatedly insisted it does not want to trigger a direct confrontation between the U.S.-backed NATO military alliance and Russia.

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