Zelensky asks for Greece's help to train F-16 pilots

Kyriakos Mitsokis, Volodymyr Zelensky August 21 2023 Athens Maximos Palace

Earlier, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, who arrived in our country in extreme secrecy, with his arrival being announced at the last minute, had a private meeting at the Maximos Palace. The two leaders then made joint statements.

The prime minister expressed Greece's continued support for Ukraine's struggle and said that war crimes committed on Ukrainian soil must be punished by international justice.

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"There is no way we will ever announce the illegal annexation of areas of Ukraine by Russia," clarified the prime minister.

Mitsotakis emphasised that Greece is against any violation of international law and illegal occupation.

"And our own country has experienced revisionism from other countries in the past," he said in reference to Turkey's illegal claims on Greek island's and maritime space.

The prime minister also mentioned that we are on the side of the Ukrainians because long historical ties link the two peoples, saying that Mariupol is "a city with a Greek name and Greek blood", but overlooked it was a city established by Russian Tsarist Catherine the Great.

Mitsotakis also noted that war crimes have been committed in Mariupol and Odesa. The prime minister also announced that he and Zelensky signed a joint statement on Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic path.

"We are fellow travellers and supporters," he emphasised and underlined: "Our solidarity existed from the beginning; it will continue."

He said that Greece would be present in the reconstruction of Ukraine, especially in Odesa. He closed his statements, quoting Nikos Kazantzakis: "Will we win? Will we be defeated?” Just fight!"

"Thank you very much for the cooperation with Greece," replied the Ukrainian president, noting that "we need Greece's help to train F16 pilots", as well as that "we need help so that the grain corridor is stable".

Zelensky also referred to Mitsotakis' promise for the reconstruction of Odesa.

The Ukrainian president closed his remarks: "Thank you, Greece, long live Ukraine."

The Netherlands and Denmark will provide Ukraine with much sought-after F-16 fighter jets in an agreement hailed by Zelensky on Sunday as “historic.”

Kyiv has urgently been calling on its Western allies to provide it with the US-made aircraft, as its slow-moving counteroffensive is hampered by Russian air superiority.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Zelensky at Eindhoven airport on Sunday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country would “commit to delivering F-16 aircraft to Ukraine” once “the conditions for such a transfer have been met.”

Zelensky hailed the agreement as “historic” and “the most important” one yet. “The Netherlands became the first country to agree to provide Ukraine with F-16s after training. I am very grateful,” he added.

Even with the news it will take months until Ukraine will be able to use the jets, and several years for pilots to be highly trained.

On Monday, Zelensky said on X, the social network previously known as Twitter, that Ukraine would receive 42 F-16 from the Netherlands and 19 from Denmark.

However, the Dutch government has not yet publicly confirmed the number of jets it would provide. Rutte said his country, which is currently in the process of upgrading to the newer F-35 fighter jets, had 42 F-16s in its arsenal.

“At this moment, the Netherlands still owns 42 F-16s. Out of these 42, we need planes to help training in Denmark and later on in Romania,” Rutte said. He added that the Netherlands would look into whether all of the remaining planes could be supplied but stated that he could not yet give a definitive number.

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