Training Ukrainian pilots to use F-16 fighter jets does not mean that NATO is an actor in war, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. Member States have committed to speeding up preparations for the start of training.
As Stoltenberg reiterated, Ukraine has the right to defend itself. “We are helping Ukraine exercise this right. This does not mean that NATO and its allies are actors in the conflict.”
On Monday, Russian diplomats raised the question of what the delivery of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine by NATO members means.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is to the American president to Joe Biden assured that the planes would not be used to cross Russian territory.
“This is an important step that will allow us to then deliver fighter jets,” Stoltenberg said.
The Netherlands proposes to train Ukrainian pilots as soon as possible
Upon arrival at the meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels, the Dutch defense minister Kajsa Ollongren advocated that training be started as soon as possible. “I am very happy that we got the green light from Washington to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets. This means that we can complete the plans to start training, which we are preparing together with Denmark,” she said.
In addition to the United States, Belgium and the United Kingdom are currently participating in this, Ollongren said. But she is convinced that other allies will join.
At the same time, the Dutch minister emphasized that they are currently focusing on preparations for pilot training, and not so much on the delivery of the planes themselves.
Discussions on the delivery of aircraft in the coming weeks
Deputy Minister of Defense of Denmark Troels Lund Poulsen however, he said that in the coming weeks there will be talks on the formation of a coalition for the supply of combat aircraft to Ukraine. According to him, Denmark wants to play a leading role in these talks.
Minister of Defense of Estonia and Germany, Hanna Pevkur and Boris Pistorius, whose countries do not have F-16 aircraft, meanwhile explained upon their arrival in Brussels that the possibilities for their countries’ participation in this coalition are limited. However, Pistorius assured that they will look into what options exist.
Further military support for Kiev is one of the central topics of today’s meeting of EU defense ministers, where they are also discussing the joint ordering of artillery ammunition for Ukraine.
Borrell: Members supplied 220,000 missiles
EU members have delivered 220,000 artillery shells and 1,300 rockets as part of the plan for the supply of ammunition to Ukraine, which they agreed on in March, said a senior EU foreign policy representative after today’s meeting of EU defense ministers. Josep Borrell. He expressed hope that they would achieve the goal of delivering one million missiles in a year. He expressed his belief that the entire one billion euros from the European Peace Facility (EPF), which is intended to co-finance these supplies, will be used.
The second pillar, to which one billion euros from the EPF will also be allocated, meanwhile, includes the joint ordering of 155 millimeter caliber artillery missiles. So far, 24 EU members have joined the joint procurement project within the framework of the European Defense Agency, recently also Slovenia and Norway. The Union’s senior foreign policy representative announced today that eight countries have expressed their intention to jointly order ammunition within the framework of the agency.
The European Commission has paid an additional 1.5 billion euros in aid to Ukraine
It is the fourth disbursement within the framework of the instrument of macro-financial assistance for Ukraine, the total value of which is around 18 billion euros. With it, the EU wants to help Ukraine cover its immediate needs with stable, predictable and large-scale financial support.
“Ukraine is fighting bravely against Russian aggression, and Europe continues to stand by it. Since the beginning of this year, we have already paid out 7.5 billion euros of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine. These funds contribute significantly to covering Ukraine’s immediate financial needs,” explained the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
The European Commission’s new financial aid worth 1.5 billion euros will be used primarily for the continued payment of salaries and pensions and the maintenance of basic public services such as hospitals, schools and housing for displaced persons.
It will also enable Ukraine to ensure macroeconomic stability and rebuild destroyed critical infrastructure, such as energy infrastructure, water systems, transport networks, roads and bridges, the European Commission said.
Since the start of the war, total support to Ukraine and its people has risen to around 70 billion euros. This includes financial, humanitarian and emergency support to Ukraine, as well as military support from the EU, Member States and European financial institutions, as well as funds available to help EU members meet the needs of Ukrainian refugees.