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Zelensky in Brussels: Belgium signs security agreement with Ukraine

08:52 29/05/2024

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky have signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement during a visit by Zelensky to Brussels this week.

The agreement provides for Belgian military aid to Ukraine to the tune of around €1 billion this year alone.

It also states that Belgium will loan 30 F-16 fighter jets by 2028, the first of which foreign minister Hadja Lahbib said would arrive this year.

The Belgian state has undertaken to meet this deadline "if possible", adding that compliance will depend on the arrival of the first F-35s set to replace the Belgian F-16s.

The agreement also covers modern armoured vehicles, equipment for the Ukrainian air force and air defence, naval security, mine clearance, artillery ammunition and military training.

Cooperation is also planned in defence, intelligence, cybersecurity and the fight against disinformation.

The signing of the agreement was only the first stage of the Zelensky’s visit to Belgium. He was also received by King Philippe before travelling to Melsbroek military airport where let F-16 pilots, instructors and technicians in the company of defence minister Ludivine Dedonder.

Last year, Belgium joined the "F-16 coalition" alongside the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway to provide Ukraine with a series of fighter-bombers to counter the Russian offensive.

Initially, Belgium's commitment was limited to training and technical and logistical support. But last autumn, the government promised to supply a number of aircraft as soon as its first F-35 fighters had been delivered.

Russia's latest territorial advances in Ukraine have prompted the Western Allies to step up the pace of military deliveries.

According to foreign affairs minister Lahbib, this support for Ukraine is essential to stop Vladimir Putin, who Lahbib said was determined to push back the borders of European countries.

When asked, Lahbib said that an invasion of Brussels itself is “not an impossible scenario if we let Putin have his way”.

Photo: Eric Lalmand/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons