President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday hailed on a visit to the Netherlands a "historic" decision to supply F-16 fighter jets to strengthen Ukraine's Soviet-era air force.

It came two days after the United States approved the transfer to Ukraine of Dutch as well as Danish US-made warplanes, a key demand by Kyiv as it seeks greater firepower from allies during a grinding counteroffensive against Russia.

Zelensky landed at a Dutch airforce base in Eindhoven at around midday (1000 GMT), a Dutch government spokesperson told AFP, and inspected the aircraft shortly after.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte rubber-stamped the deliveries, saying: "The Netherlands and Denmark commit to transfer F-16s to Ukraine once the conditions for such a transfer have been met."

The decision is "absolutely historic, powerful and inspiring for us," Zelensky said at a press conference with Rutte.

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"This is another step towards strengthening Ukraine's air shield."

Details of the aircraft delivery to Ukraine have not been unveiled.

The Dutch and the Danes are leading a plan to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the US-made aircraft as part of an 11-nation coalition, with training potentially complete by early 2024.

Washington has strict rules on the sale or transfer of US military equipment by its allies.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow will regard Western F-16 fighter jets sent to Ukraine as a "nuclear" threat because of their capacity to carry atomic weapons.

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Kyiv has in recent weeks been weakened by an ammunition shortage and vital US aid remains blocked by political wrangling in the US Congress.

Zelensky was in Sweden on Saturday, finalising with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson the production of СV90 armoured vehicles in Ukraine and Ukrainian pilots participating in test trials of Swedish Gripen fighter jets. 

Russia said it thwarted Ukrainian drone attacks on Moscow and its region on Sunday, the second such incident in two days.

Both sides have reported regular drone incursions during the conflict, with strikes on Russian territory becoming increasingly regular.

"At around 4:00 am (0100 GMT), an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack by drone on infrastructure in Moscow and the Moscow region was thwarted," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

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The Moscow-bound drone was destroyed by "electronic warfare" and crashed into an uninhabited area after losing control, the ministry added, reporting no victims or damage.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin thanked Russia's military for their work on the Telegram messaging app.

Aviation agency Rosaviatsia said flights to the Domodedovo and Vnukovo international airports were "temporarily limited" at night before returning to normal, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

A Ukrainian drone raid also hit a railway station in the western Russian city of Kursk, injuring five people, the regional governor said early Sunday.

In the southern region of Rostov that borders Ukraine, Russian air defence intercepted two Ukrainian drones, the governor said. 

Zelensky has vowed "a tangible answer" to Saturday's attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, which came during the Orthodox holiday of the Transfiguration of the Lord as some attended morning church services.

Vyacheslav Chaus, governor of the Chernihiv region, announced "7 people dead, 148 people received injuries" in an update on Sunday.

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"41 people remain in hospitals. 15 people underwent surgeries," he said in a post on Telegram, adding that "more than 500 homes suffered damage".

Zelensky had noted the dead included a six-year-old girl and that there were 15 children among the wounded.

Denise Brown, UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said it was "heinous to attack the main square of a large city, in the morning, while people are out walking, some going to church to celebrate a religious day for many Ukrainians".

Chernihiv, 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Kyiv towards Belarus, had largely been spared from major attacks since the first months of Russia's invasion as fierce fighting rages in the east and south.

The Russian army marched through the city when it invaded Ukraine through Belarus in February 2022, before being repelled by Kyiv's forces.

Ukraine launched its widely expected counteroffensive in June but has come up against fierce resistance from entrenched Russian forces.

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Comments (2)

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Bisley
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Without pilots with the skill and experience to fly without thinking about it, F-16s will be worthless. Hopefully, Ukraine has some to be familiarized with these airplanes. A fighter pilot who has to give any attention to flying his plane instead of dealing with the enemy will be dead in a week.

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Maple leaf
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Good news so can people stop complaining about their tax dollars because 61 F16s cost millions and air crew training will cost millions so just saying Europe is stepping up .

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