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Lavrov calls transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine 'nuclear threat'

by Daria Bevziuk and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 13, 2023 7:56 AM 1 min read
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In an interview with pro-Kremlin newspaper Lenta.ru, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia perceives the transfer of F-16 fighters to Ukraine as a nuclear threat due to what Lavrov says is the jets' capacity to carry nuclear weapons.

According to Lavrov, Russia has informed the U.S., U.K., and France, also nuclear powers, that Russia "cannot ignore that these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons," adding that "no assurances will help here."

Lavrov said the Russian military "will not sort out whether each specific aircraft of the is equipped for the delivery of nuclear weapons or not," saying that the very appearance of such systems in Ukraine will be considered by Russia as a nuclear threat from the West.

While Ukraine has yet to receive any F-16 jets from its Western partners, an international coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on the advanced fighter jets was officially announced at the NATO summit in Vilnius this week and the U.S. has said providing Ukraine with the jets remains a priority.

Following the announcement of the coalition in May, Lavrov said the pledged delivery of fighter jets by some Western countries is an "unacceptable escalation," criticizing the West for what he called an attempt to "weaken Russia."

Lavrov’s deputy Alexander Grushko also claimed in May that Western countries would face “colossal risks” if Ukraine were to receive the aircraft.

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