Russia has warned that US F-16 fighter jets could carry nuclear weapons if sent to Ukraine. Photo/REUTERS
DUSHANBLE – Minister of Foreign Affairs Russia Sergei Lavrov says jet fighter F-16 made in the United States (USA) can accommodate nuclear weapons and warned that supplying Kyiv with them will escalate the conflict further.
“We must remember that one of the modifications of the F-16 can accommodate nuclear weapons,” Lavrov said in a speech at a military base in Dushanbe in Tajikistan, according to a transcript uploaded on the Russian Foreign Ministry website, Tuesday (6/6/2023) .
“If they don’t understand this, then they are worthless as military strategists and planners,” said Lavrov.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press conference that his country would receive a significant number of F-16 fighter jets.
The announcement was made after Ukraine held discussions with its European partners.
“I was very happy to receive the information, I had a lucky day. Usually, we have to negotiate for one or two at a time, but now we received a significant offer,” said Zelensky.
Zelensky added that the deal still needed approval from the United States (US), which produces the F-16, and no details or specifics had been disclosed at this time.
Britain and the Netherlands agreed on May 17 to set up a “fighter jet coalition” to provide Ukraine with F-16 aircraft and train Ukrainian pilots. Currently, the initiative covers eight European countries and the US.
Zelensky hopes to make the coalition official under the name “Sky Shield of Ukraine” during the next Rammstein summit or summit of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Zelensky has long requested F-16 fighter jets, saying their appearance by Ukrainian pilots would be a sure signal to the world that a Russian invasion would end in defeat.
US President Joe Biden told G7 leaders last month that Washington was supporting a joint allied training program for Ukrainian pilots in the F-16 fighter.
But US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said no final decision had been made on the delivery of the American planes.