The Netherlands to deliver minehunters to Ukraine
The Netherlands intends to provide Ukraine with 2 Alkmaar-class minehunters, starting in 2025. Ukraine will also receive drone detection radar systems and M3 bridge and ferrying systems that enable rapid bridge building. This materiel is being purchased directly from industry partners. Netherlands Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren made an announcement to that effect in Ukraine today. Over the past couple of days, Ollongren has been visiting the heavily bombed port cities of Mykolayiv and Odesa in the south of the country together with her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.
Odesa is of tremendous historical and strategic importance to both Ukraine and Russia. Particularly since the fall of Mariupol, Odesa has been vital to Ukraine itself as well as to global food security, due to grain exports through the city’s port for example.
Mykolayiv and its surrounding towns and villages were in the line of fire for months. The city was a link between Odesa, which Russia has been eager to take, and occupied Kherson until the Russians were driven out in November 2022. In Odesa, the minister laid a wreath at a monument for Ukrainian troops who recently lost their lives.
Western weapon systems
Reznikov and Ollongren discussed fortification of the coastal defences and the importance of safe passage, maritime security, and protection for merchant ships carrying grain. In the Black Sea, Russia has laid a great many sea mines that hinder a safe passage. Ukraine intends to clear those mines after the war.
The Netherlands has extensive maritime expertise, including the skills to disarm sea mines. Ollongren stated that the minehunters and training for Ukrainian crews will contribute to security on the Black Sea and in Europe, as well as to global food security. Furthermore, our contribution will also support the Ukrainian armed forces in their transition to Western weapon systems and NATO standards.
Training of Ukrainian crews
The Royal Netherlands Navy is replacing its minehunters with new mine countermeasures vessels. The intended delivery of two minehunters to Ukraine will take place once the replacement capabilities have been realised. This is expected to commence in 2025. Ukrainian crews will already start their training in the second half of 2023. The Netherlands will carry out the training, together with Belgium and possibly other allies.
Aside from the minehunters, the Netherlands will also provide bridge-building capabilities in the form of M3 bridge and ferry systems. Ukraine can use those to quickly build pontoon bridges, allowing vehicles to cross water. The Netherlands will also ensure that Ukraine receives a number of drone detection radar systems. These resources and bridge building capabilities will be purchased directly from industry partners.
Reznikov informed Ollongren that the military support provided by the Netherlands and other countries is making a real difference in the defence of Ukraine. The Dutch contribution to date totals a value of € 1.2 billion and has included self-propelled howitzers, Patriot launch systems and tanks purchased directly from suppliers.
The minister stated that the Netherlands will continue to lend military support. She emphasised the need for swiftness and, with regard to ammunition, sufficient quantities. Heavy fighting is currently taking place in Bakhmut and also in the Donbas region.
Together, the ministers visited the cruiser Ukraina, a former sister ship of the Russian warship Moskva that was sunk last year. The Ukraina was left unfinished after the fall of the Soviet Union. The minister also met young Ukrainian troops in Odesa, for example at the military academy. Ollongren encouraged them, telling them Putin had underestimated them. “We can supply the materiel, but you are fighting for every inch of your homeland and for the future of your children – A future in a free Ukraine and in a world where we respect each other’s borders. That is our goal.”
Ministers of defence from the countries in the Ukraine Defence Contact Group will be meeting again tomorrow, online. They will discuss the current situation in, and further military support to, Ukraine.