Netherlands Permits Ukraine to Use Donated F-16 Fighter Jets to Strike Targets in Russia

Dutch policy contrasts with Belgium's restrictions on F-16 usage
  • bureau
  • 01:18 PM, June 3, 2024
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Netherlands Permits Ukraine to Use Donated F-16 Fighter Jets to Strike Targets in Russia
Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16

The Netherlands has announced it will allow Ukraine to use the 24 F-16 fighter jets it plans to donate to strike targets inside Russia.

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren confirmed that the Netherlands will not impose limitations on the use of the F-16 jets. This decision marks a divergence from Belgium's policy, which limits the use of its donated F-16s.

In an interview with Politico at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Ollongren stated, "There is not [a Belgian-style restriction]. We are applying the same principle that we have applied to every other delivery of capabilities, which is once we hand it over to Ukraine, it’s theirs to use." She added that the Netherlands only asks Ukraine to comply with international law and the right to self-defense as stated in the U.N. Charter, ensuring the jets are used to target military goals in Ukraine's self-defense.

Ollongren and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were among senior officials who met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Singapore conference. Denmark has similarly approved Ukraine's use of Danish-supplied F-16s against military targets on Russian soil. Germany has also indicated that Ukraine can use Western-supplied weapons for its defense.

Recently, the U.S. authorized Ukraine to strike Russian territory near Kharkiv using American-supplied weapons, confirmed by President Zelensky's spokesperson, Serhii Nykyforov, on May 31. However, Washington continues to restrict the use of long-range weapons for deeper strikes inside Russia. President Zelensky has expressed interest in deploying long-range weapons such as British-made Storm Shadow missiles, but the U.K. has yet to fully authorize their use, possibly awaiting a clear stance from the White House. The issue has been discussed twice with U.K. officials but remains contingent on broader international consensus, particularly the U.S. position.

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