Kiev admits it has F-16 aircraft at foreign bases to protect them from Russian attacks

Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have committed to supplying more than 60 American-made F-16s, fighter jets that Ukraine considers essential to defend itself against Russian attacks, and Ukrainian pilots are currently receiving training.

Ukrainian Air Force Commander Serhiy Holoptsov said: “A certain number of aircraft can be stationed at secure air bases outside Ukraine so that they are not targeted” on Ukrainian territory.

The military official also said in statements to a US-funded radio station that these F-16s could be used to replace damaged aircraft during repairs, and to train Ukrainian pilots abroad.

“In this way we can always have a certain number of aircraft in the operational fleet corresponding to the number of pilots we have,” he added.

Holubtsov also emphasized that F-16s can help protect frontlines and border areas from Russian airstrikes, which have caused significant damage to troops and residential areas, including Kharkiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that Moscow could consider launching attacks on military facilities in NATO countries if they house warplanes used in Ukraine.

“If they are stationed at air bases outside the Ukrainian border and used in fighting, we will have to see how and where to attack assets used in the fight against us,” Putin said in 2023.

In March, the Russian president again warned Ukraine’s Western allies against making available air bases from which F-16s could launch missions against Kremlin forces.