KABUL (BNA) UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday pledged to build an “international coalition” to provide fighter jet support for Ukraine.
“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Rutte agreed they would work to build (an) international coalition to provide Ukraine with combat air capabilities, supporting with everything from training to procuring F16 jets,” a spokesman for Sunak’s Downing Street office said in a statement following a meeting at the Council of Europe Summit in Iceland.
“The prime minister reiterated his belief that Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO and the leaders agreed on the importance of allies providing long-term security assistance to Ukraine to guarantee they can deter against future attacks,” the spokesman said.
Most NATO members in Europe have kept open the possibility of sending their F-16s to Ukraine, even as President Joe Biden said as recently as January that the United States would not do so, Al Jazeera’s reports said.
According to Psaropoulos, air defence experts say US-built F-16 fighter jets would offer Ukraine an edge over the Russian air force, but only if combined with powerful missiles and targeting information, which the West would also have to provide and which would risk drawing Ukraine’s Western allies more actively into the war.
A statement on Tuesday came a day after Ukraine’s president hinted that Kyiv could soon receive F-16 fighter jets, saying he was hopeful of “very important” decisions on the subject with the help of the UK.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy flew in by helicopter for a one-to-one unannounced meeting with Sunak on Monday at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat.
Ukraine has been seeking to obtain them for some time to augment its small Soviet-standard air force because they are widely available, with about 3,000 in service in 25 countries.