Brussels, Oct 11 (EFE).- US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Wednesday that the United States, along with Denmark and the Netherlands, will lead the initiative to train Ukrainian pilots and deliver F-16 fighter jets.
“I am pleased that Denmark and the Netherlands will be co-leading this coalition with us.” the secretary said.
“I am also proud to announce that the United States will be joining several more of these coalitions as they form in the coming weeks, including those focused on Ukraine’s air defense, armor, and artillery,” he added.
In August, the US agreed that American-made F-16 fighter jets could be transferred to Ukraine, and several countries have offered to provide Kyiv with such aircraft or train their pilots to operate them.
The fact that the US now co-leads the coalition and is more involved will speed up the process, according to diplomatic sources.
As the US enters the equation, they explained that there will be more regular contacts to promote F-16 donations and organize pilot training and aircraft maintenance teams.
In any case, the US Secretary of Defense clarified that it will take months to provide Ukraine with an initial capability, and the F-16s will not arrive until next spring at the earliest.
Austin also noted that the meeting of the fifty countries supporting Ukraine, which Volodymyr Zelensky attended in person for the first time, focused on how to help Ukraine defend itself in the long term and deter aggression in the coming decades.
In this context, he noted that members of the Contact Group are organizing themselves into capacity coalitions, which will make security assistance more agile.
Some of these coalitions have already been formed, such as the F-16 coalition mentioned above and the tank coalition led by Germany. Still, there will be others that will deal with naval forces, for example.
Estonia and Luxembourg will lead a coalition supporting Ukraine’s IT infrastructure. In contrast, Lithuania will lead aid to Ukraine to neutralize Russian propaganda on Ukrainian territory, he noted.
The Pentagon chief also announced Wednesday that his country would deliver another $200 million aid package to Kyiv, focusing mainly on air defense and artillery.
Austin also celebrated the announcements in recent days of more military aid to Ukraine from Germany, which will donate another Patriot anti-aircraft battery and more Leopard tanks, and from Spain, which will continue its “critical” military training mission and provide Hawk anti-aircraft missile launchers.
In addition, he highlighted that the United Kingdom will provide more air defense and 155-millimeter artillery ammunition. At the same time, Canada will invest nearly $ 500 million in support of Ukraine over the next three years. EFE