THE training of Ukrainian pilots the use of Western F-16 fighter jets does not make NATO a party to the conflict, the head of the international organization said today Jens Stoltenbergas the allies pledged to speed up preparations for the start of classes.

Stoltenberg said that Ukraine has the right to defend itself.

“We are helping Ukrainians to support this right,” he told reporters in Brussels. “This does not make NATO and NATO partners a party to the conflict.”

On Monday, senior Russian diplomats said the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine would raise questions about NATO’s role in the conflict.

US President Joe Biden on Friday approved training programs for Ukrainian F-16 pilots. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured Biden that the planes would not be used to cross into Russian territory.

“It’s an important step which will obviously enable us to deliver fighter jets at some stage later,” said Stoltenberg, who characterized this move “a very clear indication that we are there for the long haul and that Russia cannot expect us to sit idle.”

In the meantime, a coalition of countries is working on the specific timetable for the start of training.

“We’ll hurry now that we have the green light,” Dutch Defense Minister Kaisa Hollongren told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with her EU counterparts in Brussels.

He said the training is a coordinated effort by Belgium, Denmark, Britain, the Netherlands and other allies, and that more countries may take part.

Germany said it was looking at ways to support the group of countries on the fighters.

“We’re looking at the few options we theoretically have,” said Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. “But it won’t be important [η γερμανική συμβολή] as we simply do not have our own F-16 fighters and are not likely to be of much help in pilot training.”