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Ukraine to prepare infrastructure for F-16 fighter jets

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Tuesday that Ukraine will begin infrastructure preparations for F-16 fighter jets after some Western countries said during a summit in Moldova that they are ready to provide the aircraft.

“Our partners know how many aircraft we need. I have already received an understanding of the number from some of our European partners, and it is powerful. I am very happy with the information I received from some countries. I just had a day of happiness. It was a serious, powerful offer,” Zelenskyy told media representatives in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian presidency issued a statement saying that Zelenskyy expressed the need for an agreement with the US in an upcoming meeting, further noting the importance of a separate agreement regarding the fighter jets.

“And then the preparation of the entire infrastructure will begin. This is not fast. There is an understanding of what to do. Commander (of the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces) Mykola Oleshchuk understands where to do, what to do, and in what quantity,” Zelenskyy added.

Western nations continue to support Ukraine with military and financial aid since the war began last year on Feb. 24. So far, they have been reluctant to send fighter jets to Kyiv. However Denmark and the Netherlands are playing a lead role among Western countries, training the Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, tweeted the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on May 25.

Zelenskyy claimed that about 20,000 troops from the Wagner paramilitary group were killed in Bakhmut and about 60,000 more were wounded, adding that Ukrainian “defenders” received “the best weapons.”

Russian forces have been trying for months to capture Bakhmut, a transport and logistics hub in the Donetsk region. It also lies in the largely Russian-speaking industrialized Donbas region, which was annexed by Moscow last year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Wagner paramilitary group claimed on May 20 that their forces took complete control of the city. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied the claims during a press conference in Japan last month after the Group of Seven summit.

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