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The Dutch defence minister says the US has approved the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

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THE HAGUE, Aug 18 (AP): The United States has given its approval for the Netherlands to deliver F-
16s to Ukraine, the Dutch defence minister said on Friday, in a major gain for Kyiv even though the
fighter jets won’t have an immediate impact on the almost 18-month war
“I welcome the US decision to clear the way for delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine. It allows us to follow
through on the training of Ukrainian pilots,” Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a
message on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We remain in close contact with European partners to
decide on the next steps.”
Ukraine has long pleaded for the sophisticated fighter to give it a combat edge.
It recently launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive against the Kremlin’s forces without air
cover, placing its troops at the mercy of Russian aviation and artillery.
Apart from delivering the warplanes, Ukraine’s allies also need to train its pilots. Washington says
the F-16s, like the advanced US Abrams tanks, will be crucial in the long term as Kyiv faces down
Russia.
The Netherlands is part of a Western coalition that also includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark,
Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom that in July
pledged to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s.
Washington must give its blessing because the planes are made in the United States.
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a message on X that US clearance to send F-16s to
Ukraine “marks a major milestone" in Ukraine’s defense.
It was not immediately clear when the first F-16s could be delivered to Ukraine.
As well as the Netherlands, Denmark said in June that training Ukrainian pilots had started and the
country was considering delivering jets to Kyiv, but that pilots would need six to eight months of
training before a possible donation of aircraft can become a reality.
In a statement to Danish media, Defense Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said that the government
has several times said that a donation was “a natural step after the training.”
Meanwhile, Russian air defences stopped drone attacks on central Moscow and on the country’s
ships in the Black Sea, officials said Friday, blaming the attempted strikes on Ukraine.
Defence systems shot down a Ukrainian drone over central Moscow early Friday and some
fragments fell on an exhibition centre, the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.
It said the drone was shot down about 4 am (0100 GMT) and there were no injuries or fire caused by
the fragments.
However, flights were briefly suspended at all four major Moscow airports.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said some of the fragments fell on the grounds of the Expocentre, an
exhibition complex adjacent to the Moscow City commercial and office complex that was hit twice
by drones in the past month.
The area is about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) west of the Kremlin. The defence ministry called the latest
incident “another terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime.”
Naval forces also destroyed a Ukrainian sea drone that attempted an attack on Russian ships late
Thursday in the Black Sea, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) southwest of Sevastopol, the ministry
said
The drone was taken out by fire from a patrol boat and a corvette, it said.
It was not possible to verify the claims.

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