Ukraine Given Green Light To Use Fighter Jets

( – After months of campaigning to be allowed to use donated weapons to strike Russian targets, Ukrainian officials have been given a boost in the form of Danish F-16’s. NATO member Denmark has finally agreed to allow Kyiv to strike military targets within Russia’s borders using F-16 fighter jets given to the Ukrainian military as aid.

Denmark’s latest decision comes as part of a change in approach to the Russia-Ukraine war by Ukraine’s Western allies. For much of the war, Ukraine’s allies were happy to provide ammunition, rockets, and other resources on the proviso that it only be used within Ukraine’s borders. Leaders have long feared that using, for example, Danish munitions to attack a location in Russia could have led to a wider escalation of the bloody conflict.

After some allies began to ease these restrictions, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning that he might start to provide weapons to enemies of the West in retaliation. Putin’s statement came in early June after numerous countries, including the U.S., agreed that Ukraine could use their military aid against Russian targets, albeit with various conditions of use. Some of these conditions are already being amended. For example, in May, President Biden gave permission to the Ukrainian military to strike Russian targets close to the border area of Kharkiv. Weeks later, however, the Pentagon’s Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder told press that the policy allowed Ukraine to more widely conduct cross-border strikes, without limitation to the area adjacent to Kharkiv.

Denmark’s F-16’s and the freedom to use them against Russian targets will come as a welcome boost to the Ukrainian authorities, although experts have warned that they may not be best applied in extended cross-border assaults. Between Denmark, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands, a package of 60 or more F-16’s is expected to be delivered into Ukrainian hands by the end of the summer. According to Chatham House’s Mathieu Boulègue, the planes will be useful to Kyiv, but they should not be held up as a “silver bullet” with which to win the war.

One issue is that Ukraine does not yet have enough pilots trained in their operation. Another is that any flight mission into Russian skies is inherently high-risk, especially with so few pilots and planes. Despite the limitations, however, many military experts are confident that the F-16’s along with the ability to strike Russian targets will be beneficial to the Ukrainian war effort.

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