Up to 42 F-16 fighter planes are being sent to Ukraine by the Netherlands to help in its struggle against Russia. The victims of the MH17 disaster were brought home to the Eindhoven Airbase, where the announcement was made. Analysts think the symbolic gesture was motivated more by practical considerations.
The plane carrying 298 people, including 196 Dutch citizens, was taken from the sky above Russian separatist-controlled land. Nine years ago, the first bodies of the deceased arrived and were ceremoniously mourned.
The Malaysia Airlines aircraft from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down in 2014 by Russian proxies who had seized the Donbas area from Ukraine. Hague prosecutors said in February that they had “strong evidence” that the Kremlin, under Putin, authorized their missile system to down the airliner.
Following the United States’ confirmation that it had authorized the transfer, Reuters reported that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that the Netherlands would deliver up to 42 F-16 fighter planes to Ukraine. The Dutch government has been vocal in its support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, and Rutte has already hinted at a connection between the downing of Flight MH17 and the pursuit of justice. Regardless of how long or challenging, the Netherlands will not rest until justice has been served for Ukraine.
Although the transfer of F-16 fighter planes may have had symbolic overtones, analysts believe it was a pragmatic decision. The Dutch military ministry has been replacing its outdated F-16 aircraft with newer F-35s for some time now. There are probably other motivations for the move, according to some analysts.
The Netherlands’ policy toward Russia has changed since 2014, according to Paul van Hooft, a senior strategic analyst at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He said that after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Dutch no longer wanted to irritate the country, even during the MH17 crisis. He argued that Dutch officials had failed to capitalize on the incident’s significance despite the apparent similarities between the invasion and the flight.