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Zelenskyy thanks Denmark for pledging to send F-16s for use against Russia’s invading forces

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COPENHAGEN, Aug 21 (AP): Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Danish lawmakers
on Monday for helping his country resist Russia’s invasion, a day after Denmark and the Netherlands
announced they will provide Kyiv with American-made F-16 warplanes.
Zelenskyy said that if Russia’s invasion is successful, other parts of Europe would be at risk from the
Kremlin’s military aggression.
“All of Russia’s neighbours are under threat if Ukraine does not prevail,” he said in a speech in
Zelenskyy portrays Ukraine as defending Western values of freedom and democracy against tyranny
and argues that Ukraine needs to be properly provisioned to fend off Russia’s much bigger force.
Ukraine has been pressing its Western allies for months to grant it F-16s. Its armed forces are still
using aging Soviet-era combat planes, and its counteroffensive against Russian positions is advancing
without air support in what analysts say is a major handicap.
Zelenskyy said on Telegram that Ukraine would get 42 jets. Denmark pledged 19 F-16s, which could
be delivered around the end of the year when pilot training lasting four to six months is completed.
However, getting Ukrainian squadrons battle ready could take much longer. U.S. Air Force Gen.
James Hecker, commander of U.S. air forces in Europe and Africa, said last week that he did not
expect the F-16s to be a game-changer for Ukraine. Getting F-16 squadrons ready for battle could
take “four or five years,” he said.
Other issues that are still not clear are what type of weapons the F-16s will carry and how the
aircraft will be maintained in Ukraine.
The United States announced last week its approval for the Netherlands and Denmark to deliver the
F-16s. Its blessing for the plane donations to other countries is needed because the aircraft are made
in the United States.
On Sunday, Zelenskyy visited the Netherlands and inspected two gray F-16s parked in a hangar at a
Dutch base in the southern city of Eindhoven together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Rutte didn’t provide a number or timeframe for deliveries, saying it depends on how soon Ukrainian
crews and infrastructure are ready.

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