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Spain: ‘Training and maintenance of F-16s’ – Netherlands, Romania vow to strengthen Ukraine’s air defences

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Kajsa Ollongren, the defence minister of the Netherlands, said that both her country and Romania were taking steps to bolster Ukraine’s air defence capabilities, during the informal meeting of European Union defence ministers in Toledo on Wednesday.

« Romania yesterday signed a letter of intent with Lockheed Martin to provide the training and maintenance of F-16s in the Romanian training centre. This is a concrete step towards strengthening the air defence of Ukraine by two European countries and all other countries in the F16 coalition, » said Ollongren.

Earlier this month, the Netherlands and Denmark promised to supply up to 61 F-16 fighters to Ukraine when pilot training has been completed, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described as a ‘breakthrough’.

Moreover, Hanno Pevkur, Estonia’s defence minister, stressed the need for unity within the EU and NATO on aid to Ukraine. He urged dialogue with Hungary to secure broader support.

« Hungary has to understand that this war at the moment also defines the future of European security, he said. « This is the moment of unity that we need to keep in EU, in NATO, in order to help Ukraine because this defines the security architecture for Europe. »

In response to the F-16 announcement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sad that such supplies would be viewed as a ‘threat from the West in the nuclear sphere’, saying that ‘Russia cannot ignore the ability of these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons’.

Moscow has previously insisted that Western deliveries of weaponry, such as missiles and tanks, will only escalate the conflict in Ukraine and won’t change the outcome.

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