Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is paying a quick visit to the Netherlands on Sunday, which is expected to last no more than a few hours. He landed at Eindhoven Air Base on Sunday morning, and was welcomed there by a Cabinet delegation including Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The delivery of Dutch-owned F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine is the most important item on the agenda. Last week, the US government gave permission to deliver the American-made fighter jets to Kyiv.
It is the second time in a few months that Zelenskyy has visited the Netherlands. The first time was on May 4. The Netherlands is an important advocate of aid to Ukraine to support that country’s defense in its war with Russia, which invaded the neighboring country early last year.
After their meeting, Rutte and Zelenskyy will give a press conference together. Then the Ukrainian leader will continue on his itinerary. For security reasons, Zelenskyy’s travel plans are never announced in advance. On Saturday, he was still in Sweden with his wife, Olena.
During a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, the Ukrainian leader asked for the delivery of Gripen fighter jets. In the Scandinavian country, Ukrainians are being trained to fly this aircraft, which is produced by the Swedish company, Saab.
Together with the Danes, the Netherlands is leading a coalition of countries that is teaching Ukrainians to fly with American F-16 fighter jets. That training takes place in Denmark. Ukrainian engineers and technicians are also being trained.
Kyiv has been asking the West for modern fighter jets for a long time. But it will still take months before they are delivered. “This is not something for the very short term,” said caretaker Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren on Friday. She also would not disclose how many F-16s the Netherlands wants to give.
The Ministry of Defense is currently replacing the F-16. As a result, several dozen F-16s will soon be surplus to Dutch military requirements. An earlier decision to sell a large number of these aircraft to the American company, Draken International, has been reversed by the Cabinet.
During the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, the Netherlands promised to help Ukraine with its anti-aircraft defenses and air force in the coming years. That promise is part of agreements with which allies want to guarantee the security of Ukraine for the coming years.
Since the outbreak of the war, the government has provided approximately 2 billion euros in military aid to the government in Kyiv. Dutch soldiers also help train Ukrainians, and assist in the maintenance of Ukrainian combat equipment. Investigators from the Marechaussee are also searching for evidence of war crimes.
Despite its outgoing status, the Cabinet will continue to assist Ukraine, Rutte repeated Friday afternoon following the first Council of Ministers after the summer holidays. “The end of that conflict (is) absolutely not yet in sight,” said the prime minister. This policy is supported by the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch Parliament.
Zelenskyy is constantly appealing for help. The counter-offensive of the Ukrainian forces is progressing slowly and the losses are considerable. Meanwhile, Russian attacks on cities are continuing. Seven people were killed and more than 100 injured in the historic town of Tjernihiv on Saturday.