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Netherlands pledges to help Ukraine improve its air and coastal defenses

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and acting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, visiting the Black Sea port of Odessa, pledged this Friday to improve Ukraine's air defenses and increase the security of a " humanitarian corridor" for grain exports.

"Today we had a busy day, dedicated to global and security issues," Zelensky said at a joint press conference. "We are working with our partners to adequately protect these corridors and strengthen our positions in the Black Sea, and this also applies to the protection of the skies over Odessa and the region as a whole." The Odessa region has been the target of frequent Russian missile and drone attacks. Zelensky and Rutte visited damaged port facilities.

Zelensky has described the airstrikes as "vileness" and thanked Rutte for a new air defense package that would include missiles for the Patriot air defense systems.

The Netherlands has provided Ukraine with financial aid and weapons during the war, and has led efforts to help train Ukrainian pilots in F-16 fighter jets. Rutte, speaking through an interpreter, said Amsterdam will also provide Ukraine with patrol boats.

Initially, it was announced that Ukraine's humanitarian corridor would free ships that were not carrying grain, were not covered by the grain deal and had been stuck in port for more than a year, but ships seeking to load grain have also used the corridor. . Experts estimate that about 20 ships have entered the corridor to load grain.

Zelensky has also claimed that Ukraine is close to reaching an agreement with some partners on insurance for ships using the corridor, but did not provide details. "We are already very close to that," he said.

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