The Netherlands intends to deliver 2 Alkmaar-class minehunters to Ukraine. This country also receives equipment purchased directly from the industry. These are drone detection radar systems and so-called M3 bridge and ferrying systems to quickly build bridges. This was announced today by Minister Kajsa Ollongren of Defense in Ukraine. In recent days, she and her Ukrainian colleague Oleksii Reznikov visited the heavily bombed port cities of Mykolaiv and Odessa in the south of the country.

Odessa is historically and strategically extremely important for Ukraine and Russia. Especially after the fall of Mariopoel, Odessa is of vital importance to Ukraine itself and to global food security, including for grain exports from the port city.

Mykolaiv and surrounding towns were in the line of fire for months. The city formed the link between Odessa, coveted by Russia, and occupied Kherson. That lasted until the Russians were expelled in November 2022. In Odessa, the minister laid a wreath at the monument to recently killed Ukrainian soldiers.

Western weapon systems

Reznikov and Ollongren spoke about strengthening coastal defenses, the importance of free passage and maritime safety and protection of grain ships. In the Black Sea, many sea mines have been laid by Russia that hinder safe passage. After the war, Ukraine wants to clear them. “The Netherlands has a great deal of maritime expertise, including in defusing sea mines. The minehunters and the training of the Ukrainian crew contribute to the safety of the Black Sea, the safety of Europe and global food security,” said Ollongren. This support also contributes to the transition of the Ukrainian armed forces to Western weapon systems and NATO standards.

Training Ukrainian crews

The mine hunters of the Royal Netherlands Navy are being replaced by new mine countermeasures vessels. The transfer of both ships to Ukraine will take place after the replacement capacity has been delivered to the Dutch navy. This is expected to happen from 2025. The training of the Ukrainian crew will start in the second half of 2023. The Netherlands is taking on this task, together with Belgium and possibly other allies.

Bridge stroke capacity

Apart from the mine hunters, the Netherlands provides bridge strike capacity in the form of M3 bridge and ferry systems. With this, Ukraine can quickly build pontoon bridges and then cross a water with vehicles. The Netherlands is also ensuring that Ukraine receives a number of drone detection radar systems. These resources and the bridging capacity are acquired directly from the industry.

Reznikov told Ollongren that the military support from the Netherlands and other countries makes the difference in the defense of Ukraine. The Netherlands has now supplied 1.2 billion euros. This concerned, for example, pantzer howitzers, Patriot launch systems and tanks from the industry.

The minister said that the Netherlands will continue to provide military support. As far as she is concerned, speed is now the most important thing and when it comes to ammunition, especially large quantities. At the moment there is heavy fighting in Bachmut and further in the Donbas.

Every inch

Together, the ministers visited the cruiser ‘Ukraina’, a former sister ship of the Russian ‘Moskva’, which was sunk last year. The ship was never completed after the fall of the Soviet Union. In Odessa, the minister also met young Ukrainian soldiers, including at the military academy. “Putin underestimated you.” With those words, Ollongren encouraged them. “We can provide the equipment, but you are fighting for every inch of your land and for the future of your children. In a free Ukraine, in a world where we respect each other’s borders. This is what we do it for.”

Tomorrow, the defense ministers of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group countries will also meet again. This time digitally. They discuss the current situation in Ukraine and military support to this country.