Russia: Sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine raises question of NATO's involvement in war

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Iran Press TV

Russia: Sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine raises question of NATO's involvement in war

Iran Press TV

Monday, 22 May 2023 1:41 AM

Russia has once again warned the West against sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, saying such a move would raise the question of NATO's direct involvement in the war.

The early Monday remarks by Russia's Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov were published on the Russian embassy's Telegram channel.

"There is no infrastructure for the operation of the F-16 in Ukraine and the needed number of pilots and maintenance personnel is not there either," he said, adding, "What will happen if the American fighters take off from NATO airfields, controlled by foreign 'volunteers'?"

Moscow's ambassador also warned the Western backers of Kiev that any strike by Ukrainian forces on the Crimean Peninsula, which joined Russia through a referendum in 2014, would be considered a strike on the Russian soil.

"It is important that the United States be fully aware of the Russian response" (to such strikes), Antonov said.

His remarks came after on Friday, the United States gave the green light to allies willing to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.

President Joe Biden also told G7 leaders in the Japanese city of Hiroshima that Washington would support a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots and later equip the country's air force with F-16s and other fourth-generation fighter jets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was also present at the meeting, assured Biden that the aircraft would not be used to go into Russian territory.

He welcomed the "historic decision" of the White House, saying on Twitter, "This will greatly strengthen our military in the sky."

On Saturday, Moscow warned the countries that are planning to supply F-16s to Ukraine of the "colossal risks" of their decision.

"We see that Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario. It involves colossal risks for themselves," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told TASS news agency, in response to a question on the possible supply of American-made jets to Ukraine.

"In any case, this will be taken into account in all our plans, and we have all the necessary means to achieve the goals we have set," he added.

Zelensky has been requesting F-16s from the West, but has not yet won commitments to deliver the jets from any country as no government has so far confirmed it will supply Kiev with warplanes despite the push by the US, the UK and the EU officials to send advanced weapons to Kiev.

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