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Netherlands, Norway eager to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s

The Netherlands wants to give Ukrainian pilots F-16 training as soon as possible, Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Wednesday in a letter to parliament. Earlier that same day, Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said his country will support training programs for Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.

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The Dutch training program would be coordinated with Belgium, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, and other countries could join, Minister Ollongren said.

“The government backs this initiative and is considering how Norway can contribute together with allies and partners,” her Norwegian counterpart Gram said earlier that day.

The Norwegian government has not decided whether Norway will give any of its F-16 jets to Ukraine, the minister separately told public broadcaster NRK.

On Tuesday, NATO’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said training Ukrainian pilots on Western F-16 fighter jets would not make NATO a party to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

A day earlier, senior Russian diplomats said the transfer of F-16 jets to Ukraine would raise the question of NATO’s role in the conflict.

Last Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden endorsed training programmes for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured Biden that the planes would not be used to cross into Russian territory.

The West says it wants to help Ukraine defeat Russia but has repeatedly insisted it does not want to trigger a direct confrontation between the U.S.-backed NATO military alliance and Russia.

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