Westerners are "playing with fire" after the recent green light from the United States for future deliveries of F-16 fighter jets to Kiev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced Sunday. He deplored "an unacceptable escalation" in an interview with Russian state television, an excerpt of which was published on social networks by the journalist who interviewed him, Pavel Zarubin. An "escalation" led by "Washington, London and their satellites within the EU" who want to "weaken Russia," he said.
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According to him, through the delivery of modern weapons to Kiev, the West wants to "inflict (Moscow) a strategic defeat" and "dismember" Russia, a rhetoric regularly used by Russian leaders.
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Kiev's supporters had refused for more than a year to provide fighter jets to the Ukrainian army for fear of an escalation of the conflict, but the United States finally gave the green light on May 19 to authorize the delivery of these F-16s that Kiev has been tirelessly demanding. This represents an important turning point in Western support for Kiev and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called the decision "historic".
The delivery schedule of these American-made F-16s and their number are not decided at this stage, and Ukrainian pilots must first be trained for several months to learn how to handle them. But Ukraine wanted these Western planes to counter Russian power in the air and strike the rear lines of Moscow's troops, at a time when Kiev says it is completing its preparations before a major counter-offensive.
According to US President Joe Biden, Volodymyr Zelensky "categorically assured" him that these fighter jets would not attack Russian territory, a sine qua non condition for Western countries before any shipment of equipment to Ukraine.