Thu, 28 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Russia rebukes possible F-16s to Kyiv

Update : 21 May 2023, 01:24

Russia's deputy foreign minister warned of "colossal risks" if NATO countries provided F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met India's Narendra Modi for the first time since the war.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko issued a stark warning against a Western possibility of supplying Kviv with F-16 fighter jets, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

"We see that Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario. It involves colossal risks for themselves," Russian state news agency TASS quoted him as saying.

Ukraine has long asked for the more advanced fighter planes, saying they are superior to its Soviet-era fleet. But the US and other NATO countries had so far resisted, usually citing the need to first train Ukrainian pilots to fly them first, but also often saying that other weapons systems like air defense and armored vehicles were more of a priority.

Concern about the move being seen as a further escalation by Russia was likely also a factor in the hesitancy, if less commonly said in public.

President Joe Biden on Friday, however, said the US would support a joint effort with allies to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s during a summit with G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan. This follows similar pledges from European countries.

US officials in recent weeks have signaled that the US would not block efforts by European allies to transfer the American-made planes either.

The US has not provided details on decisions on when, how many, and who might supply F-16s, and stopped just short of categorically guaranteeing future deliveries on Friday.

Earlier this week, the UK and the Netherlands announced an agreement to build an "international coalition" to help procure the fighter jets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday "for the leadership of the United Kingdom in the international fighter jet coalition," after meeting him on the sidelines of the G7 summit on Saturday.

The G7 leaders in a joint statement on Saturday vowed to intensify the pressure on Moscow, saying "Russia's brutal of aggression represents a threat to the whole world in breach of fundamental norms, rules and principles of the international community."

"We reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes to bring a comprehensive, just and lasting peace," the statement read.

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