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US Approves Delivery Of F-16 Fighter Jets To Ukraine: Dutch Defence Minister

The United States has approved delivery of F-16s to Ukraine, said the Dutch Defence Minister on Friday, marking a "major milestone" in Ukraine's defence in the 18-month long war.

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Netherlands has been directed to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, said Kajsa Ollongren, the Dutch Defence Minister.  “I welcome the US decision to clear the way for delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine. It allows us to follow through on the training of Ukrainian pilots,” the Defence Minister tweeted. “We remain in close contact with European partners to decide on the next steps.” He added. 

Although cited as a major gain for Kyiv, the fighter jets won’t have an immediate impact on the almost 18-month war. 

Ukraine had long requested for these jets to gain a combat edge. It also had recently launched a long-anticipated counterstrike against the Kremlin’s forces, devoid of an air cover, placing its troops at the mercy of Russian aviation and artillery. However, Ukraine’s allies have to still train their pilots alongside. Netherlands form a part of the Western coalition that in July had pledged to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s. The Western coalition includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Netherlands.

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The planes originally made in the United States will “mark a major milestone” in Ukraine’s defence the Defence Minister stated in a tweet.  Netherlands had confirmed that training for Ukrainian pilots had started in June, and the country was considering delivering the jets to Kyiv, although the date remained ambiguous. They added that the pilots would need six to eight months of training before a possible donation became a reality. 

Meanwhile, Russian air defences terminated drone attacks, alleged to be from Ukraine on central Moscow and on the country’s ships in the Black Sea, officials said on Friday. A Ukrainian drone was shot down over central Moscow early Friday, while some fragments fell on an exhibition centre. Following which, flights were briefly suspended at all four major Moscow airports. 

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Naval forces also tackled an attempted attack on Russian ships  by a Ukrainian sea drone, late Thursday in the Black Sea.

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