UKRAINE’S President Volodymyr Zelensky takes a selfie with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during a visit to the Eindhoven military air base, on Sunday.—AFP
UKRAINE’S President Volodymyr Zelensky takes a selfie with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during a visit to the Eindhoven military air base, on Sunday.—AFP

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday hailed on a visit to the Netherlands a “historic” decision to supply F-16 fighter jets to strengthen Ukraine’s Soviet-era air force.

Zelensky landed at a Dutch air force base in Eindhoven at around midday, a Dutch government spokesperson said, and inspected the aircraft shortly afterwards.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte rubber-stamped the deliveries, saying: “The Netherlands and Denmark commit to transfer F-16s to Ukraine once the conditions for such a transfer have been met.” The decision is “absolutely historic, powerful and inspiring for us,” Mr Zelensky said at a press conference with Rutte.

Details of the aircraft delivery to Ukraine have not been unveiled. The Dutch and the Danes are leading a plan to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the US-made aircraft as part of an 11-nation coalition, with training potentially complete by early 2024.

Russia thwarts drone attack on Moscow; strike on railway station in Kursk leaves five injured

Nuclear threat

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow will regard Western F-16 fighter jets sent to Ukraine as a “nuclear” threat because of their capacity to carry atomic weapons.

Russia said it thwarted Ukrainian drone attacks on Moscow and its region on Sunday, the second such incident in two days. “At around 4am, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack by drone on infrastructure in Moscow and the Moscow region was thwar­ted,” the Russian defence ministry claimed in a statement.

The Moscow-bound drone was destroyed by “electronic warfare” and crashed into an uninhabited area after losing control, the ministry added, reporting no victims or damage.

A Ukrainian drone raid also hit a railway station in the western Russian city of Kursk, injuring five people, the regional governor said on Sunday. In the southern region of Rostov that borders Ukraine, Russian air defence intercepted two Ukrainian drones, the governor added.

Answer to Chernihiv attack

Zelensky has vowed “a tangible answer” to Saturday’s attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, which came during the Orthodox holiday of the Transfiguration of the Lord as some attended morning church services.

Vyacheslav Chaus, governor of the Chernihiv region, announced “seven people dead, 148 people received injuries” in an update on Sunday.

Zelensky had noted the dead included a six-year-old girl and that there were 15 children among the wou­nded.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2023

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