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Supply of F-16s to Ukraine is quickly approaching: ‘It is rather delicate’ | Politics

Downing Avenue is evident: the UK will work with the Netherlands on ‘a world coalition’ that may present Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. Our cupboard is silent. “That is very delicate.”

It’s well-known that Ukraine has been asking for contemporary (learn: Western) fighter planes for months. However now the supply of F-16s appears to be getting nearer step-by-step, though this isn’t spoken about within the Netherlands.

The truth is, a shock wave went via a number of ministries on Tuesday night when the French newspaper The world reported that Prime Minister Mark Rutte had agreed in a gathering together with his British colleague Rishi Sunak in Reykjavik that the 2 international locations would arrange a ‘jet fighter coalition’ collectively. Downing Avenue went additional in a press release: the 2 international locations would work collectively to offer Ukraine with “air fight capabilities,” together with “coaching and provide” of F-16s. Particular element: the UK itself has no F-16s to present away.

Though army specialists don’t exclude that Ukrainian pilots have lengthy been educated within the deepest secrecy, after the British, the French and Belgians additionally instantly promised coaching for Ukrainian pilots. President Volodymyr Zelensky responded with pleasure in his each day speech: “A great begin, thanks everybody!”

‘No taboos’

In The Hague, eyebrows had been raised. What was agreed? The Ministry of Protection – which now has 24 F-16s in its fleet, the remainder has already been offered – requested for clarification from the Rutte ministry and realized that the state of affairs was nonetheless the identical as throughout Zelensky’s go to to the Netherlands on Might 4 . Rutte then repeated that there are “no taboos”.

Behind the scenes it turns into clear that one thing has certainly modified. From a considerably wait-and-see angle within the peloton of allies of Ukraine, the Netherlands and the UK have demarcated to the main group. Though, in line with the Authorities Info Service (RVD), ‘no concrete agreements’ have been made in regards to the ‘buy or supply’ of F-16s, the Netherlands and the UK will certainly ‘act collectively’ in line with insiders and this may be referred to as ‘constructing a coalition’. .

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However Deputy Prime Minister Wopke Hoekstra, who changed Rutte on the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, doesn’t need to say something about it in public. “That is very delicate,” he stated. “Every part is being listened in, particularly by Russia.” There may be “very intensive contact” with allies, however: he can solely speak about that “when the whole route has been run”. “It isn’t clever to go exterior earlier, given all of the sensitivities.”

Pink line

These sensitivities are certainly there. For a very long time, the F-16 was seen as a purple line; a weapon system that the allies wouldn’t provide to Ukraine anyway. With every thing that has been delivered to date, the argument has been that Ukraine had to make use of it to defend itself. With a fighter jet, with a spread of two,700 kilometers (with out refueling), targets in Russia can in principle even be bombarded – with the chance of escalation.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Volodymyr Zelensky throughout a press convention on the Catshuis. On Might 4, the Ukrainian president visited the Netherlands for the primary time. © ANP/Robin van Lonkhuijsen

There are fears that Russia may blame any such assault by itself soil on international locations that provided the F-16s. With reprisals for – for instance – the Netherlands consequently. Though Hoekstra emphasizes that the Netherlands has beforehand provided weapon techniques with armored howitzers and surface-to-air missiles that Ukraine may use to launch assaults in Russia itself. In different phrases: in line with Hoekstra, the Netherlands has ‘crossed the bridge earlier than’. As well as, the availability of tanks was additionally unattainable for a very long time, however now the primary tanks are already rolling over the Ukrainian black earth. The longer the battle lasts, the extra ‘purple strains’ transfer.

That additionally appears to be occurring with the F-16s. Though the worldwide coalition that’s at present being constructed is lacking an essential constructing block: the US. The F-16 is an American-made plane. When international locations which have F-16s need to ship to Ukraine, American permission is required. With out President Biden’s approval, the specified fighter jets won’t are available in Zelensky’s course, regardless of how laborious Rutte and Sunak pull the cart.

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