De Croo in US: ‘Belgian F-16s only to be used in Ukraine’

During his visit to Washington DC, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo confirmed that military equipment from Belgium can only be used on Ukrainian territory. He did so after several countries, including the US, indicated that they will allow supplied weapons to be used against military targets in Russia.

De Croo is in Washington DC at the invitation of US president Joe Biden, and will discuss Western support for Ukraine during his meeting with the president. “At a time like now, you need good friends,” De Croo said of the ties between Belgium and the US. “We are seeing increasingly threatening language from Russia that is really just a response to the support we provide to Ukraine to be able to defend itself.”

The US is one of several countries to have recently indicated that they will allow their supplied weapons to be used against military targets in Russia to defend against Russian attacks. In doing so, they are particularly looking at the Kharkiv region. De Croo confirmed that Belgium would not go along with that.

Air defence

Earlier this week, Belgium signed a bilateral security agreement over a 10-year period with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. “The most remarkable thing is that we are sending 30 F-16s and we will thus become the biggest supplier of fighter aircraft for the Ukrainian air force,” De Croo said. “But the agreement is very clear. It is about fighter aircraft that can be used by the Ukrainians on Ukrainian territory. That is the agreement we made and I want to stick to it.”

The real question, according to the prime minister, is “how we can ensure that the US and the other NATO countries can continue to provide that support”. “There is a huge need for air defence. Fighter aircraft can help with that but other things will be needed as well. So we need to look at how we can provide equipment faster and better.”


Alexander De Croo talks to the press after a meeting with US president Joe Biden, 31 May 2024 © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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