Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed a crowd in Denmark, expressing his confidence in Ukraine’s ability to counter Russia’s invasion with the impending delivery of U.S.-manufactured F-16 fighter jets.
In a significant move, Denmark and the Netherlands jointly announced their commitment to provide Ukraine with F-16s, with the initial batch of six set to arrive around the New Year.
This decision had been endorsed by Washington prior to Zelenskiy’s trip to Copenhagen.
Addressing thousands of people assembled outside the Danish parliament, Zelenskiy conveyed his conviction that these deliveries marked a turning point, stating, “Today we are confident that Russia will lose this war.”
Russia, however, cautioned against the supply of the fighter jets, asserting that such an action would escalate the nearly 18-month-long conflict.
Russian forces currently control a substantial portion of Ukraine’s territory, while Kyiv has been rigorously engaged in efforts to repel them.
Russian Ambassador Vladimir Barbin claimed that Denmark’s decision to donate 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine would escalate the conflict, contending that it compelled Ukraine to continue the military confrontation with Russia.
He also criticized Denmark’s stance on peace negotiations.
Ukrainian military officials emphasized the critical role of the F-16s in their counteroffensive, which began in early June but has encountered slow progress.
Air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat stressed the significance of air superiority for success on the ground, as the F-16s would hinder Russian fighter jets from targeting advancing Ukrainian forces.
Danish Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen stipulated that the donated F-16s could only be used within Ukrainian territory and solely for the purpose of reclaiming occupied areas.
He asserted that the weapons’ donation was conditional upon these terms.
In total, Denmark is set to deliver 19 F-16 jets, while the Netherlands, possessing 42 F-16s, is yet to determine the extent of their contribution.
Ukrainian President Zelenskiy hailed this development as a “breakthrough agreement,” while Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov disclosed that Ukrainian pilots had initiated training.
However, the complete training of engineers and mechanics is projected to take at least six months, potentially longer.