Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced over the phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that he had reached a “very important deal on the training” of Ukrainian pilots in France.
Zelensky stated in his Sunday evening video address that the Ukrainian coalition for modern fighter aircraft is strengthening.
He disclosed that he and Macron had also discussed what France could do to secure the Ukrainian city of Odessa and its surrounding area.
Zelensky did not specify the nature of the required pilot instruction. Instead of the F-16 fighter aircraft promised to Ukraine, France has the Rafale and Mirage 2000.
DPA reported that Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov stated previously that he anticipates the F-16 fighter jets Ukraine will receive from its allies to enter combat by next spring.
Reznikov explained in an interview with the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform that pilots must be trained to operate the planes and that infrastructure, specialists, and support facilities must be prepared.
The Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway have committed to supplying Ukraine with F-16s. Reznikov reported that he was required to submit multiple letters containing assurances that these NATO weapons would only be used for defensive purposes and never against Russian territory. Russia has warned that the fighter aircraft will escalate the conflict further.
Ukraine has acquired at least fifty aircraft to date. Recently, Ukrainian President Zelensky requested the delivery of 160 F-16s to regain control of his nation’s airspace.