Netherlands undecided on provision of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine – PM Rutte

The Netherlands has not yet made a decision to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, despite the fact that the country has led a coalition to train Ukrainian pilots, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a press conference, CNN reports.

“The decision to deliver F-16s, that has not yet been made. Again, American permission first applies for this. If you’re going to train, it’s obvious that you would seriously think about it. But it has not yet been decided,” the head of the government said.

According to Rutte, the Netherlands is leading the joint training mission, together with Belgium and the United Kingdom, and there are additional European countries who have told the Dutch government they are interested in helping.

Rutte said starting the training mission was important, but the discussion on actually sending planes should happen separately, the CNN reports.

Rutte did acknowledge the Netherlands has a fleet of F-16s that it will no longer need, as it transitions to the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet. But when pressed by a journalist, he refused to comment on any Dutch desire to send those planes to Ukraine.

“The Netherlands really does play, I think, a role that’s important at this moment in the whole question about Ukraine and weapons deliveries. But we are not so big that we can afford to put out all kinds of releases through the media that might give other partners the feeling that, ‘Hey, we’re now being pressured through the media.’ That’s why we never say anything about it until it’s over,” Rutte said.

Earlier, Bloomberg reported, citing its own sources, that the Netherlands is likely to send F-16 fighters to Ukraine after pilot training.


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