Giving F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine a ‘colossal risk’, says Russia

Biden recently gave his backing for Ukrainian pilots to be trained to fly F-16s

Russia Ukraine War F16 Explainer US fighter aircraft F-16 performs aerobatic maneuvers on the last day of Aero India 2019 at Yelahanka air base in Bangalore, India, Feb. 24, 2019 | AP

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko has warned Western countries of “enormous risks” if Ukraine is provided with F-16 fighter jets. Grushko was responding to a question on Saturday about the implications of providing the jets, which Ukraine has been requesting from NATO countries, the TASS news agency reported.

US President Joe Biden recently gave his backing for Ukrainian pilots to be trained to fly F-16s. F-16s are high-performance weapon systems with a range of 500 miles. 

“We see that the Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario,” Grushko said. “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.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Saturday said Biden believes in equipping the country for a long-term fight against Russia, CNN reported.

Ukraine has pressed for Western jets since the very earliest stages of the war, insisting that the sophisticated aircraft would give them a leg up in the war and allow them to strike Russian forces.

Nearly a year ago, two Ukrainian fighter pilots who asked to be identified by their call signs Moonfish and Juice met with reporters in Washington to argue for getting the F-16 Fighting Falcons, which have more advanced radars, sensors and missile capabilities. 

--With PTI inputs

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