Russia will view the deployment of F-16 jets to Ukraine as a direct nuclear threat to Moscow, Sergei Lavrov warns
Russia will view the deployment of F-16 fighter jets to 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 the planned move to give Kyiv the advanced warplanes.
He implied that the use of F-16 – for which Ukrainian pilots are now being trained – could lead to Putin unleashing tactical nuclear weapons.
He said the move was ‘just one example of an extremely dangerous turn of events is the United States plans to transfer F-16 fighter jets to the Kiev regime.
‘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 amount of assurances will help here.’
An F-16 fighter aircraft flies over the U.S. forces Spangdahlem Air Base in Spangdahlem, Germany, Wednesday, June 14, 2023 during the Air Defender 2023 exercise
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) attends the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Russia at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, 13 July 2023
The Lavrov warning comes despite the West denying it will supply nuclear weapons to Ukraine.
Lavrov said: ‘In the course of combat operations, our servicemen are not going to sort out whether each particular aircraft of this type is equipped to deliver nuclear weapons or not.
‘We will regard the very fact that the Ukrainian armed forces have such systems as a threat from the West in the nuclear sphere.’
He warned: ‘The United States and its NATO satellites are creating risks of a direct armed clash with Russia, and this is fraught with catastrophic consequences.’
The ultra-loyalist chief diplomat said: ‘The conditions for Russia’s use of nuclear weapons are clearly defined in our Military Doctrine.
‘They are well known, and I will not repeat them once again.’
The US and its allies could deliver the F-16 jets to Ukraine in the coming months.
The Foreign Minister alleged that NATO – which completed its summit in Vilnius on Wednesday – is ‘consistently lowering the threshold for the use of force and building up the nuclear capability in military planning’.
He alleged in an interview with Lenta that ‘the organisation has completely returned to Cold War schemes… on the basis of the ideology… dividing the world into democracies and autocracies’.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at an event of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, July 12, 2023
Throughout the war, Russian allies have upped rhetoric on the nuclear deterrent, threatening the West with an apocalyptic response for what they perceive to be escalation.
In May, another of Putin’s top allies has warned ‘nuclear apocalypse’ will become more likely if the West continues to supply Ukraine with increasingly powerful weapons.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the chilling remark after US President Joe Biden said he would back a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.
‘The more weapons are supplied, the more dangerous the world will be.
‘And the more destructive these weapons are, the more likely the scenario becomes of what is commonly called a nuclear apocalypse,’ Medvedev was quoted as saying.