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F-16 jets being sent to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands, Blinken says

NATO's 75th anniversary summit, in Washington

By Daphne Psaledakis and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The first batch of U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets are already being transferred to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands and will be flying over Ukrainian skies this summer, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

Blinken, speaking at an event on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington, said a robust package for Ukraine will be unveiled over the next couple of days that will build a clear and strong bridge for Ukraine’s NATO membership.

“I’m also pleased to announce that as we speak, the transfer of F-16 jets is underway, coming from Denmark, coming from the Netherlands,” Blinken said.

“And those jets… will be flying in the skies of Ukraine this summer to make sure that Ukraine can continue to effectively defend itself against the Russian aggression.”

Reinforcing air defenses has been crucial for Ukraine as it fights a Russian invasion. Moscow renewed its aerial assaults on Ukraine’s national power grid in the spring, causing sweeping blackouts.

F-16s have been on Ukraine’s wish list for a long time because of their destructive power and global availability. The fighter jet is equipped with a 20mm cannon and can carry bombs, rockets and missiles.

“We are preparing to meet modern fighter jets in the Ukrainian skies,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said in a post on X after meeting with his Dutch and Danish counterparts.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week that he wanted to double Ukraine’s air defense capacity over the summer and that his country needed at least seven additional Patriot systems to protect itself.

NATO members have announced the delivery of five additional Patriot and other strategic air defense systems to help Ukraine. Still more aid announcements were expected at this week’s summit in Washington, which marks the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

A joint statement from the leaders of the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands said the Danish and Dutch governments were in the process of donating American-made F-16s to Ukraine.

Denmark has committed to donate 19 jets in total, while the Netherlands has promised to deliver 24 aircraft. Both countries have been driving forces behind an international coalition to supply Ukraine with F-16s.

Norway also said on Wednesday that it would donate six F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and that the deliveries were planned to start this year.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Daphne Psaledakis and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Peter Graff and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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