US approves transfer of Dutch, Danish F-16s to Ukraine


KYIV: Kyiv on Friday welcomed a US decision to let Denmark and the Netherlands hand F-16 fighter jets over to Ukraine once its pilots are trained to use them.

In Russia, the authorities shut down respected rights group the Sakharov Center and announced fresh international sanctions against its critics abroad.

And earlier Friday Russian forces destroyed Ukrainian drones targeting Moscow and its Black Sea Fleet.

In Washington, a US State Department official said Denmark and the Netherlands had been given “formal assurances” for the jet transfer.

Training by an 11-nation coalition is to begin this month, and officials hope pilots will be ready by early 2024.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov hailed “great news from our friends in the United States”.

Kyiv has been pushing for months to get Western fighters to replace the heavy losses incurred by its air force, which flies mostly Russian aircraft. The US F-16 has better combat capabilities than those operated by Ukraine.

Russia on Friday continued its battle against its critics at home and abroad.

The authorities shut down prominent rights group the Sakharov Center, saying it had illegally hosted conferences and exhibitions.

Named after Nobel Prize winner and Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov, it was set up in 1996 to defend human rights and preserve his legacy.

Critics say the group is the latest target of the Kremlin’s clampdown on liberal-leaning organisations that challenge the authorities.

Also Friday, a Russian court placed the co-chair of independent election monitoring group Golos in pre-trial detention until at least October 17.

The ruling by Basmanny District Court comes as Russia gears up for regional elections next month.

And Moscow announced sanctions against International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan, who in March issued a warrant against Putin accusing him of having “illegally deported” thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Two British government ministers were also on the updated sanctions list, as well as journalists from the BBC, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.__Pakistan Today