Ukrainian pilots have started to undergo training on F-16 fighter jets in several European Union countries according to the bloc’s High Representative, Josep Borrell.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking allies for the aircraft as Kyiv seeks to improve its defenses against Russian air attacks.
Speaking on his way into a meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels Tuesday, Borrell said the training will “take time, but the sooner the better.”
While the idea was initially met by reluctance from Ukraine’s allies, Borrell said that the door is now open for the provision of jets, and he expects a similar outcome to that of the donation of Leopard 2 tanks which also went through a period of uncertainty.
At the start of talks about sending the German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, Borrell said many countries were “reluctant.” But “at the end,” he added, “the decision comes to provide this military support because it is absolutely needed in order for Ukraine to continue defending.”
Jet coalition grows: The Dutch defense minister said that EU officials are working on a concrete timeline for training and said that there is agreement that it must happen urgently.
“But we did need the green light from Washington, DC. And it is a co-effort with Denmark, Belgium, UK and other allies. So a coordinated effort. But we will speed up now that we know that we have the green light,” Kajsa Ollogren told reporters.
US President Joe Biden signaled his approval for Ukrainian pilots to be trained to fly them over the weekend.