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Russia: Gives F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine a ‘colossal risk’ | War news between Russia and Ukraine


Western countries ‘still cling to the escalation scenario’ that risks expanding the Ukraine war in Europe, says deputy foreign minister.

Western countries will run “colossal risks” if they supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, a Russian official says.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko answered a question on Saturday about the implications of delivering the jets that Ukraine has requested from NATO countries, the TASS news agency reported.

Ukraine has yet to win a commitment to supply the planes, but US President Joe Biden told G7 leaders on Friday that Washington supports joint allied training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s, senior US officials said.

“We see that Western countries are still sticking to the escalation scenario. It involves colossal risks for themselves,” Grushko was quoted as saying.

“In any case, it will be taken into account in all our plans and we have all the necessary means to achieve the goals we have set.”

Alexandre Vautravers, editor-in-chief of the Swiss Military Review, said despite Russia’s warning, Moscow was unlikely to escalate the situation.

“Every time a new weapons system has been given to Ukraine, we’ve heard a lot of rhetoric – but very little in the way of action from Russia,” he told Al Jazeera from Geneva. “I think the rhetoric today is not a sufficient deterrent.”

Vautravers added that Kyiv also faces important technical issues that needed to be resolved for the F-16 fighter jets.

“It is quickly running out of air defense missiles, and it is necessary to close the gaps in Ukraine’s air defense with these aircraft,” he said.

‘Need to improve’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has for months called for the delivery of advanced fighter jets to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion.

But the Ukrainian leader had until now faced rejection from his Western allies, who feared supplying Ukraine with advanced offensive weapons could be met with an escalation by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the spread of the war in Europe.

Zelenskyy thanked British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the G7 summit in Japan on Saturday for his
support to form a coalition to supply Western fighter jets.

“It is necessary to improve [Ukraine’s] air defense capabilities, including training our pilots,” Zelenskyy wrote on his official Telegram channel.

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