Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, hailed Sunday’s announcement that the Netherlands and Denmark will contribute F-16 fighter planes to his country as a success in the country’s efforts to secure the aircraft seen as essential in the battle against Russia.
For months, Mr. Zelensky’s administration has prioritised the purchase of American-made F-16s to complement a fleet of Soviet-era fighters in an effort to gain an edge over Russia’s air force and to bolster its own air defences. The administration in Kyiv started a counteroffensive this summer, but Ukrainian authorities admitted this week that NATO members would not send the aircraft until next year.
A U.S. official said on Thursday that the United States will enable partners to deploy the planes after President Biden, abandoning months of reluctance, declared in May that NATO nations may train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s.
Mr. Zelensky said during a visit to the Netherlands that the Dutch government planned to transfer 42 planes to Ukraine after the country’s pilots and engineers had been trained to operate them. Aircraft were also on the agenda during his Sunday trip to Denmark and Saturday stopover in Sweden.
The addition of F-16s would improve the effectiveness of the country’s ground-launched air defences in the face of Russian missile assaults and would even serve as a deterrence to Moscow in the long run by negating Russia’s current advantage in the air.
Ukraine has retaken several villages and gained some land in the south and east during the counteroffensive, but it has not yet made a meaningful breach of Moscow’s lines due to the strong Russian opposition, well-defended obstacles, and many minefields in the area.
On Saturday, the Swedish and Ukrainian governments agreed a framework deal for the manufacture, maintenance, and education of the Swedish CV90 infantry combat vehicle. Mr. Kristersson said that Sweden had donated CV90s, Leopard tanks, Archer artillery systems, and mine-clearing equipment to Ukraine to the tune of 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).
Issues of military manufacturing and supply are becoming more crucial to disputes over the final result of the conflict, almost 18 months after Russia’s full-scale invasion started. They set the stage for Moscow’s continuous bombing of civilian areas along the battle lines and Ukraine’s efforts to regain territory.
Hours after Mr. Zelensky pledged a military reaction to a Russian missile assault that killed seven people, Russia accused Ukraine of conducting a series of drone strikes on Sunday, including one that mildly injured five people and another that prompted airports in Moscow to temporarily shut.
The Ukrainian military did not immediately respond to reports that drones had been used in assaults inside Russia. Mr. Zelensky has intimated in recent weeks that assaults on Russian land are part of his government’s policy, despite the fact that Ukrainian authorities normally do not claim credit for such operations.
Drone attacks on military and infrastructure targets in recent weeks have bolstered the ongoing counteroffensive that began in June. At least part of the suffering caused by Russia’s continuous bombing of civilian targets in Ukraine seems to be the motivation for these actions.
An official in charge of the area that borders northeastern Ukraine said on Sunday that a drone from Ukraine had damaged the roof of the railway station in the Russian city of Kursk.
Mr. Zelensky’s words, in which he pledged to retaliate to a Russian assault on the city of Chernihiv on Saturday, were not directly related to the attacks, which occurred some 80 miles northeast of the capital, Kyiv. Six people, including a 6-year-old girl called Sofia, were killed in the incident, and 144 others, including 15 children, were injured, he added.
The commander of the regional military administration, Viacheslav Chaus, said on Telegram that missiles had hit the Taras Shevchenko Theatre in the city, where businesses and volunteers had been convening. Maria Berlinska, who helped organise a drone display at the theatre, said in a Facebook post that the venue had been attacked when it was open to the public.