President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine landed at Eindhoven Air Base on Sunday morning for a flying visit to the Netherlands. There, he was welcomed by a cabinet delegation including prime minister Mark Rutte.
The delivery of Dutch F-16s to Ukraine was the main item on the agenda. Last week, the US government gave permission to deliver the fighter jets to Kiev. In Eindhoven, Zelensky was shown some of the F-16s that have been promised to him. The president’s visit ended with a press conference together with Rutte.
The air base in Eindhoven was informed of Zelensky’s arrival a few days ago. “We immediately started switching gears so that all services would be ready and waiting,” says Major Wilko Ter Horst-Delstra. What exactly precedes such a visit, he cannot say. “But we do this so often. Foreign ministers also land at Eindhoven. We are used to this.”
Two billion euros in military aid
This is the first time a western country has promised to give Ukraine modern fighter jets. The Netherlands is a key ally for Ukraine in the war against the Russians, who invaded the neighbouring country early last year. The Dutch F-16s are becoming surplus because they are currently being replaced by F-35s.
Since the outbreak of the war, the cabinet gave around €2 billion in military support to the government in Kiev. Dutch military personnel also train Ukrainians, help maintain Ukrainian combat equipment and military police search for evidence of war crimes.
The cabinet continues to assist Ukraine despite its caretaker status until the November elections. Rutte reiterated this resolve on Friday afternoon after the first cabinet meeting since the summer beak. “The end of the conflict (is) nowhere near,” the prime minister says. The Dutch Lower House supports the cabinet’s policy.