The West’s plans to provide United States-designed fighter jets to Kyiv represent an “extremely dangerous development,” Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says. Moscow will treat the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine as a “nuclear threat,” he added.
Fortunately, Russia has been mostly empty promises when it comes to threats and repercussions against the West or NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) for arming Ukraine. But at some point, Moscow may feel the need to act, which could lead to a broader war. The plans to supply F-16s to Kyiv is just one more example of an escalatory move by the West and in itself is “an extremely dangerous development,” Lavrov stated.
By continuing to provide more sophisticated arms to Kyiv, “the US and its NATO satellites create the risk of a direct armed confrontation with Russia, and this may lead to catastrophic consequences,” Lavrov warned in his interview with Lenta.ru on Wednesday, according to a report by RT.
“We have informed the nuclear powers – the U.S., U.K., and France – that Russia can’t ignore the ability of these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons,” the foreign minister continued. “No assurances [by the West] will help here,” he warned. “The very fact of the appearance of such systems within the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be considered by us as a threat from the West in the nuclear domain,” Lavrov said.
In the midst of fighting, the Russian military isn’t going to take the time to investigate whether any specific jet is equipped to deliver nuclear weapons or not, he added. That means all jets are going to be considered a threat to Russia.
Ukraine has been pressing its foreign backers for fourth-generation F-16 warplanes for months, arguing that they are crucial in providing air cover for Ukraine’s troops and defending Ukrainian airspace amid a massive Russian missile campaign targeting military facilities and energy infrastructure. The U.S. and its allies initially ruled out deliveries of the jets, saying the F-16 wasn’t the type of hardware that Ukraine needed, but changed their stance on the issue over time. -RT
In an interview on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius on Wednesday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that “there will be the transfer of F-16s [to Ukraine], likely from European countries that have excess F-16 supplies.”