Russia would view deployment of F-16 jets in Ukraine as direct nuclear threat to Moscow, Sergei Lavrov warns
Russia will view the deployment of F-16 fighter jets in Ukraine as a direct nuclear threat to the Kremlin, Putin’s foreign minister has warned.
Sergei Lavrov says Russia has privately warned the US, Britain and France of the dire risks of a planned move to give Kiev advanced fighter jets.
He indicated that the use of the F-16 – for which Ukrainian pilots are now being trained – could rid Putin of strategic nuclear weapons.
He said the move was ‘an example of a very dangerous turn of events as the US plans to hand over F-16 fighter jets to the Kiev government.
“We have told the nuclear-powered US, Britain and France that Russia cannot ignore the capability of these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons.
‘No amount of reassurance will help here.’
An F-16 fighter jet flies over U.S. Forces Spandahlem Air Base during exercise Air Defender 2023, Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Spangdahlem, Germany.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) attends the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Russia during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia July 13, 2023.
Lavrov’s warning came despite the West denying that it would supply nuclear weapons to Ukraine.
Lavrov said: ‘During combat operations, our forces are not going to determine whether each specific aircraft of this type is equipped to deliver nuclear weapons.
“We will consider the presence of such systems in the armed forces of Ukraine as a threat from the West in the nuclear field.”
He warned: ‘The US and its NATO satellites are risking direct armed conflict with Russia, and this is fraught with catastrophic consequences.’
The ultra-loyal chief diplomat said: ‘The terms of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons are clearly defined in our military doctrine.
‘They are well known, and I will not repeat them once more.’
The US and its allies may deliver F-16 jets to Ukraine next month.
The foreign minister complained that Nato – which concluded its summit in Vilnius on Wednesday – was ‘generally reducing the boundaries of the use of force and building nuclear capabilities into military plans’.
He complained in an interview with Lenta that ‘the organization has completely reverted to Cold War planning… based on ideology… dividing the world into democracies and dictatorships’.
Yesterday, he was quoted as saying that Russia would defend its own ‘legitimate security interests’ as world leaders met on the first day of the NATO summit in Vilnius.
He added that Russia was taking ‘appropriate’ measures in response to the possible accession of Sweden and Ukraine to NATO.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, July 12, 2023.
Throughout the war, Russian allies have raised the rhetoric of nuclear deterrence, fearing a doomsday response to what they perceive as growing Western fears.
In May, another top Putin ally warned that a ‘nuclear holocaust’ would become more likely if the West continued to supply Ukraine with increasingly powerful weapons.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the chilling comments after US President Joe Biden said he would support a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.
‘The more weapons supplied, the more dangerous the world becomes.
‘And the more destructive these weapons are, the greater the scenario of what is commonly called a nuclear holocaust,’ Medvedev said.