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Ukraine updates: US approves Dutch, Danish F-16 deliveries

Published August 18, 2023last updated August 18, 2023

Denmark and the Netherlands have confirmed that the US has given approval for them to deliver F-16 combat jets to Ukraine. Kyiv has thanked Germany for the delivery of air defense systems. DW has more.

Romanian pilot flying an F-16
The F-16 fighter planes from are not expected to arrive in Ukraine for some timeImage: Gianluca Vannicelli/ipa-agency/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The  United States has approved the sending of F-16 fighter planes from Denmark and the Netherlands to Ukraine, both European countries have confirmed. 

Although jets won't have an immediate impact on the war, with pilots still to be trained, the development represents a major gain for Kyiv in its efforts to fend off Russia's invading forces.

Washington has assured Denmark and the Netherlands that it will expedite the approval of transfer requests for F-16s to go to Ukraine when the pilots are trained.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked Germany for its delivery of air defense equipment.

Here's an overview of some of the main stories concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Friday, August 18: 

Skip next section US, Japan, South Korea pledge to keep supporting Ukraine
August 18, 2023

US, Japan, South Korea pledge to keep supporting Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has hailed a "new era" of unity with the leaders of South Korea and Japan at a historic summit at Camp David.

In a statement, the allies said they had agreed to a new security pledge to share information and consult with each other during crises.

The three countries also committed to continue supporting Kyiv and to maintain strong, coordinated sanctions against Moscow over its war in Ukraine.

They also said they would aim to decrease reliance on Russian energy.

Skip next section Russia sanctions ICC prosecutor, UK ministers
August 18, 2023

Russia sanctions ICC prosecutor, UK ministers

Russia has announced sanctions against the International Criminal Court prosecutor, who is seeking the arrest of President Vladimir Putin, as well as British ministers who have fiercely opposed Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The ICC's Karim Khan, who is British, issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March on suspicion of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children. Russia, which is not a member of the ICC, insists the warrant against Putin is "void."

The ICC said in May it was "undeterred" after Russia put prosecutor Khan on a wanted list over his issuance of the arrest warrant.

A total of 54 people have been added to Russia's sanctions list targeting British citizens, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. They include Sports Minister Lucy Frazer "who is actively pushing for the international sporting isolation of Russia, and the British Deputy Defence Minister Annabel Goldie, who is responsible for delivering weapons to Ukraine," the statement read.

Moscow also added a number of correspondents from the BBC, the Guardian newspaper and the Daily Telegraph to the travel ban list.

Skip next section Ukraine, Romania sign deal to boost Kyiv's grain exports
August 18, 2023

Ukraine, Romania sign deal to boost Kyiv's grain exports

Kyiv and Bucharest have reached an agreement to increase the amount of Ukrainian grain moving through Romanian territory.

Romania has become an important transit point for grain exports from Ukraine since Moscow's decision last month to withdraw from a deal that had allowed the safe passage of cargo vessels on the Black Sea.

Russia has also targeted Ukrainian ports on the Danube River — now a main route to get grain to Romania — since exiting the deal.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal hailed "important and constructive" talks with his Romanian counterpart, Marcel Ciolacu. He said the countries had signed an accord "ensuring the reliable transit of Ukrainian goods."

"We plan to open new checkpoints along our common border for road, rail, sea and river traffic," he added.

Ciolacu, meanwhile, said Romania wanted to double the amount of Ukrainian grain transiting his country.

The Black Sea: A new zone of conflict

Skip next section Ukrainian envoy to Germany hopes for swift Taurus missile decision
August 18, 2023

Ukrainian envoy to Germany hopes for swift Taurus missile decision

Germany is facing growing pressure from Ukraine to send Taurus cruise missiles to boost its counter-offensive against Russian troops.

Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, told German press agency dpa he hopes for a quick and positive decision on delivering the long-range missiles.

He said that "weapons are needed to be able to defend against this war and to win this war."

How significant would Taurus cruise missiles be for Ukraine?

Kyiv has been pushing Berlin to supply it with the Taurus, a missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers (311 miles), but it is a move that has caused much debate in Germany. 

A poll for German broadcaster ARD released on Wednesday showed that 52% of respondents thought giving Kyiv the German long-range targeted weapons was a bad idea. Only 36% backed the move, with 12% undecided.

According to Makeiev, Ukraine's victory in the war is crucial for ensuring the safety and peace of all European citizens.

Skip next section Businessman Shvidler loses court bid to lift sanctions
August 18, 2023

Businessman Shvidler loses court bid to lift sanctions

A billionaire businessman has lost his challenge at London's High Court against the UK government's sanctions imposed on him in response to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Eugene Shvidler, who was born in the former Soviet Union but later became a dual British-American citizen, was sanctioned in March 2022 for his board role at Russian steelmaker Evraz as well as his ties to Russian businessman Roman Abramovich. His two private jets were also seized.

He argued that Britain should not have imposed sanctions due to his close friendship with Abramovich.

The case was the first substantive challenge to British sanctions imposed after Russia's invasion. It could set a precedent for oligarchs saying they have been unfairly targeted by such measures. 

Shvidler said the sanctions had destroyed his ability to deal with his assets and conduct his business, while they had disrupted his private life and shattered his reputation.

Judge Neil Garnham rejected Shvidler's challenge. "It cannot properly be said that the (foreign secretary at the time, Liz Truss) has failed to strike a fair balance between the rights of Mr. Shvidler and his family and the interests of the community." 

Garnham noted the sanctions were "temporary and reversible" and do not "threaten his life or liberty."

Shvidler's lawyers said he would seek to appeal the judgment "at the earliest opportunity."

Skip next section What Russia pays to attract recruits for its war in Ukraine
August 18, 2023

What Russia pays to attract recruits for its war in Ukraine

The military has boosted salaries since the start of its invasion of Ukraine. How lucrative is a career in Putin's army?

What Russia pays to attract recruits for its war in Ukraine

Skip next section Ukraine welcomes Germany's delivery of air defense systems
August 18, 2023

Ukraine welcomes Germany's delivery of air defense systems

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has welcomed the new German ambassador to Kyiv and thanked Berlin for the delivery of two new IRIS-T air units.

The county is scrambling to obtain as many Western air defense units as it can to protect cities and critical infrastructures from Moscow's air strikes.

"This is a powerful and much-needed air defense system," Zelenskyy said in his evening address to the nation. "Thank you, Germany, for your help in protecting us from Russian terror."

"They have already yielded significant results, and not only for Ukraine."

Zelenskyy said this was because the destruction of Russian missiles "reassures the world that a terrorist state is unable to break our collective security."

Kyiv recently said it was seeing "significant results" thanks to US Patriot and German IRIS-T defense launchers, despite dozens of attacks by Russia.  

Germany's ambassador, Martin Jäger, officially took on his post on Thursday after handing in his credentials to Zelenskyy. 

"We support Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and independence," Jäger wrote on the online platform X, formerly known as Twitter, after the ceremony. 

Skip next section US approves F-16 deliveries to Ukraine from Denmark, the Netherlands
August 18, 2023

US approves F-16 deliveries to Ukraine from Denmark, the Netherlands

The US on Thursday approved the sending of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands once the pilot training is completed.

A US official said they have assured Denmark and the Netherlands that Washington will expedite approval of transfer requests for the jets as soon as the pilots are trained.

"We welcome Washington's decision to pave the way for sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine," Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter. 

Denmark also confirmed the discussion would be taking place soon.

"The government has said several times that a donation is a natural next step after training. We are discussing it with close allies, and I expect we will soon be able to be more concrete about that," Danish Defense Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said.

Ukraine has been eager to receive state-of-the-art jets as it fends off repeated drone and air strikes from Russia's invading forces.

The Danish air force has 43 of the US-made planes, about 30 of which are in service. The Scandinavian country has already begun the process of replacing them with it first fifth-generation F-35s.

F-16s for Ukraine: why they matter

The Dutch Defense Ministry says the Netherlands currently has 24 operational F-16s, which are to be phased out by mid-2024. 

Skip next section Lithuania shuts two border checkpoints with Belarus
August 18, 2023

Lithuania shuts two border checkpoints with Belarus

Lithuania shut down two of its six border checkpoints with Belarus, due to the risk posed by Russia's Wagner mercenary group.

"Both Sumsko and Tvereciaus border checkpoints were shut at midnight," spokeswoman of the border guard service Lina Laurinaityte-Grigiene told AFP.

Officers laid road spikes at the closed checkpoints, she added. They also plan to build fences with barbed wire in the area.

"Lithuania, by taking such decisions, purposefully and deliberately creates artificial barriers on the border to serve its political ambitions," Belarus' border force said on social media Wednesday.

Skip next section Russia to release new school textbook in occupied Ukraine
August 18, 2023

Russia to release new school textbook in occupied Ukraine

The UK Ministry of Defence daily intelligence update on Friday reported that Sergey Kiriyenko, First Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration, traveled to Donetsk on August 15, to visit schools and to check upon their integration into the Russian education system.

A new textbook is also set to be released in the occupied regions of Ukraine and throughout Russia on September 1, the update said. This book describes the invasion by Russia as a special operation, and calls Ukraine an "ultra-terrorist state."

The ministry said that the Russian administration in the occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia received new instructions on the accreditation of educational institutions.

Russian journalists are being employed to head up media outlets in the occupied regions, the update added.

"Russia's aim is to create a pro-Kremlin information space in the occupied regions in order to erode Ukrainian national identity," it said.

Skip next section Ukraine troops train on Leopard 1 tanks in Germany
August 18, 2023

Ukraine troops train on Leopard 1 tanks in Germany

DW was given rare access to Ukrainian soldiers being trained on how to use German Leopard 1 tanks.

Ukraine troops train on Leopard tanks in Germany

Skip next section Drone hits several buildings in Moscow
August 18, 2023

Drone hits several buildings in Moscow

A drone smashed into a building in central Moscow on Friday after Russian air defenses shot it down, Russian officials said.

Moscow said the drone had come from Ukraine and that it had disrupted air traffic at several major airports serving the Russian capital.

Images showed emergency workers inspecting the damaged roof of one of the buildings that the drone hit.

Officials said there had been no casualties when the downed drone hit a non-residential building at Moscow's Expo Center complex in the early hours of Friday.

The center is a large spread of exhibition pavilions and halls, fewer than 5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) away from the Kremlin.

Ukraine: War of the drones

Kyiv has not immediately commented. 

Air traffic was briefly suspended at four major airports around Moscow — Vnukovo, Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Zhukovsky — all of which later reported that they had reopened.

Drone air strikes that Moscow blames on Ukraine have been increasingly common inside Russia since a drone was destroyed over the Kremlin in early May.

Skip next section First humanitarian route ship passes Bosphorus
August 18, 2023

First humanitarian route ship passes Bosphorus

The first vessel to use Ukraine's latest Black Sea corridor has crossed through Turkey's Bosphorus Strait. 

The Hong-Kong-flagged Joseph Schulte container ship left the Russian-blocked Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa earlier this week.

It had been in the port since February 23, 2022, the day before the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Kyiv last week announced a "humanitarian corridor" in the Black Sea, primarily to release cargo ships that have been trapped in its ports since the start of the wider war. This followed Moscow's termination of a grain export deal last month.

The Joseph Schulte is carrying more than 2,100 containers with about 30,000 metric tons of cargo, according to Ukraine.

Ukraine calls Russia's bluff on Black Sea ships

Skip next section Russian ships repel Ukraine attack near Crimea
August 18, 2023

Russian ships repel Ukraine attack near Crimea

Russia said on Friday morning that it had fended off an attack from Ukraine in the Black Sea near the Russian-occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Two Russian warships repelled an attack from an unmanned boat that the Russian Defense Ministry said was Ukrainian.

The warships, the Pytlivy and the Vasili Bykov, fired at the boat, destroying it, according to the ministry.

Russia quickly took control of the Black Sea after launching its full-scale invasion in February of last year, but its navy has come under attack numerous times.

The Black Sea: A new zone of conflict

js/ab (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)