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Lavrov calls move to supply Ukraine with Western fighter jets ‘unacceptable escalation’

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 28, 2023 2:54 PM 2 min read
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the pledged delivery of fighter jets by some Western states is an "unacceptable escalation," criticizing the West for what he called an attempt to "weaken Russia," according to Russian state-controlled media.

"It's playing with fire," Lavrov said, as quoted by Russia's Foreign Ministry.

Some Western countries have expressed willingness to train Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, while others have said they are willing to provide them, following U.S. President Joe Biden's green light for NATO allies to supply Ukraine with them. However, Ukraine’s allies have yet to decide which country will provide the jets, how many, and when.

The delivery of F-16s to Ukraine will take “several months at best,” U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said on May 22. He added that “several months” is relatively quick, since it usually takes over two years to train a new American pilot on such an aircraft.

Following the first reports on F-16 possible delivery to Ukraine, Lavrov’s deputy Alexander Grushko expressed Russia's concerns, claiming that Western countries would face “colossal risks” if Ukraine were to receive the aircraft.

When asked about whether the supply of F-16s is a “colossal risk,” as Russia claims, Biden said, “It is. For them (Russians).”

The F-16s, serving since the 1970s and used by over 20 countries, offers improved awareness, precision, and combat effectiveness.

Supplying Ukraine's Air Force with F-16s would represent a substantial upgrade in the country's defense capabilities.

Critics claim that the absence of Western-made fighter jets, and long-range missiles from allies hinders Ukraine's ability to counterattack and liberate Russian-occupied territories in the east and south.

Editorial: Arming Ukraine won’t escalate war. Reluctance to do so will
First it was the tanks, now it’s the fighter jets. As Ukraine braces for another possible major Russian offensive in the upcoming weeks, Western leaders are yet again coming up with a variety of excuses why this time, they cannot justify supplying F-16 and F-35 fighter jets to Ukraine.
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