After news broke that the U.S. will allow countries to provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Russian officials are warning that the move would mark a dramatic escalation in the conflict.
Responding to the weapons transfer, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, told Russian media outlet TASS: “We see that the Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario.
“It involves enormous risks for themselves. In any case, this will be taken into account in all our plans, and we have all the necessary means to achieve the set goals.”
Russia has issued similar threats following the announcements that the West would supply main battle tanks and other advanced weapons to Ukraine. The main fear for all parties is that the conflict could escalate to the point that nuclear weapons are used for the first time in Europe’s history.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pledged not to deploy U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets against Russian targets, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday at the end of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima.
“Zelensky has clearly promised that they will not be used to penetrate Russian airspace,” Biden said at a press conference in Japan after the summit.
The U.S. president had in principle given permission for the delivery of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine under the alliance, as he said the military situation in the war-torn country had changed.
Biden made it clear that if Ukrainian troops can successfully advance on the frontline, a military situation could arise in which they would need weapons with a longer range than they currently have.
He also added that in the event of a future Russian-Ukrainian peace agreement, the F-16 fighters could boost the confidence of Ukraine’s leadership in the event of a renewed Russian attack on the country.
A week ago, during his visit to Berlin on May 14, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to provide Ukraine with air defense systems and more tanks. Then, during a surprise visit to Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would provide Ukraine with armored vehicles and light tanks.