Nato pledges F-16s and billions in finance to Ukraine during historic summit

Nato members pledged vital fighter jets and promised billions in additional finances to Ukraine during the alliance’s annual summit in Washington - as Kyiv concluded search efforts for those still missing in the rubble of buildings destroyed by Russia’s citywide missile strikes earlier this week.

From the sidelines of Nato’s 75th annual summit, Norway became the fourth country to pledge F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, promising to start delivering half a dozen of the airplanes later this year.

Their announcement takes the total number of fighter jets pledged to Kyiv to 86 after Belgium promised an additional 30 in late May, though they said that their donations would arrive only by 2028. Denmark and the Netherlands have also pledged the fighter jets to Kyiv.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement saying there would be “a decision on the F-16s very soon”, though he declined to confirm Norway’s reported pledge.

“Yesterday, for Ukraine, we received a decision on 5 more ‘patriots’ and dozens of other air defence systems, today - a decision on aircraft,” he wrote on Telegram.

He added that there will be “two new security agreements” announced including support for sanctions against Russia, support for entry into the European Union and Nato and for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

“There will be at least ten talks with the leaders of the countries,” he added. “I am grateful to our entire team for their activity.”

Meanwhile, the White House revealed that Nato allies would announce a “minimum” of $40 billion (£32bn) in financial aid to Ukraine later during the summit.

The US said their contribution would be drawn from a $61 billion support package belatedly passed by Congress in April.

And Sir Keir Starmer, fresh off his appointment as British prime minister, backed a policy proposed by the former Conservative administration supporting Ukraine’s right to use UK-supplied long-range missiles on targets inside mainland Russia.

Previously, Ukraine’s western partners, including the UK, had denied Kyiv the right to hit targets outside of its own territory, concerned that such a move would be viewed as offensive in nature by Russia.

After the Kremlin carried out a protracted aerial bombardment of Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, using missile systems positioned just inside their own border, former UK foreign secretary David Cameron reversed their policy preventing Kyiv from striking back.

“It is for Ukraine to decide how to deploy it for those defensive purposes,” Sir Keir said after he was asked whether he would stick with Lord Cameron’s policy.

In Kyiv, where the city is still reeling from one of the most significant Russian attacks on the capital since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022, search and rescue efforts concluded across the seven sites where buildings had been destroyed.

The Kyiv City Military Administration responsible for protecting the city said 33 people had been killed in the Monday attacks - a woman’s body was found buried in the rubble in a northwestern district in the early hours of Wednesday - while more than 120 were injured. At least 38 remain hospitalised.

They said they had concluded search and rescue efforts across the city, adding that 129 buildings had been damaged by the strikes.

In an update issued by Ukraine’s health ministry to The Independent concerning damage caused by a missile strike on Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital, Okhmatdyt, located in central Kyiv, they said the attack had “completely destroyed” its dialysis ward, while 12 more departments were damaged.

They added that a “part of the country’s only oncology and haematology laboratory was also damaged” in the attack.

“Okhmatdyt is the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine and it suffered great destruction,” the ministry said.

“The full amount of damages is calculated. However, we kept the most valuable thing - the doctors. All of them are ready to work in other medical facilities until the time of renewal in Okhmatdyt.

“Therefore, we do not foresee a deterioration in the provision of children’s medical care in Kyiv”