Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the defense agreement, signed by Kyiv and Brussels on Tuesday, stipulates that military aid from his nation can only be “used by the Armed Forces on Ukrainian territory,” including the long-awaited F-16 multirole fighter.

“Everything that is stipulated in the agreement, military equipment, military materials, must be used by the Armed Forces on Ukrainian territory, we have signed such an agreement,” said De Croo at a joint press conference alongside President Volodymyr Zelensky.

However, since Russia has been attacking Ukraine from within its borders, evidenced by recent reports of Russian troops firing Grad missiles toward the Kharkiv region from a civilian highway in the Belgorod region, Ukraine maintained the position that prohibiting it from striking targets within Russia with Western weaponry severely limits its ability to defend itself.

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Kyiv has repeatedly requested allies to lift restrictions on striking within Russian territory with weaponry they have provided, a view supported by NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg in a recent statement.

While countries such as the UK and Poland have voiced their support for lifting the restrictions, others such as Germany and Italy remain opposed to the idea in fear of potential escalation.

Ukraine’s bilateral agreement with Belgium also includes security guarantees for Ukraine for the next 10 years, at least €977 million ($1 billion) of military assistance this year, as well as commitments to deliver 30 F-16 fighter aircraft by 2028, which Brussels said the first batch is due to arrive in Ukraine by this year.

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To date, Brussels has committed €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) in military support for Ukraine since Russia’s 2022 invasion.

The Ukrainian Air Force is scheduled to receive more than 60 F-16s from Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. Those countries along with the US, Britain, Romania, France and Bulgaria have mobilized staff, aircraft and ground facilities to train the Ukrainians to fly and maintain the fighters.

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The first wave of Ukrainian pilots have recently completed initial F-16 training at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona and are now en route to further F-16 training in Europe.

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