Russia said that the potential appearance of F-16 fighter jets in Ukraine will be seen by Moscow as a “nuclear” threat.
“The very fact of the appearance of such systems in the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be considered by us as a threat from the West in the nuclear sphere,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview late Wednesday with Russian online newspaper Lenta.
Lavrov said that the actions of the US and NATO constitute the risk of a direct armed conflict with Russia, which, he said, is “fraught with catastrophic consequences.” Transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine is an example of such actions, he added.
“We have informed the nuclear powers, the United States, Britain, and France, that Russia cannot ignore the ability of these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons. No assurances will help here,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov further said that the Russian military will not examine if each specific aircraft is equipped for the delivery of nuclear weapons or not, which is why it will consider the transfer of F-16s as a threat.
Western nations continue to support Ukraine with military and financial aid since the war began last year on Feb. 24. So far, they have been reluctant to send fighter jets to Kyiv.
However, Denmark and the Netherlands are playing a lead role among the Western countries, training the Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, tweeted US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on May 25.