Vladimir Putin: We would see F-16 as legitimate targets if they operate from the airfields of third countries, no matter where they are located

9:04 30.03.2024 • Vladimir Kozin , Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences

Vladimir Putin visited the Russian Federation Defence Ministry’s 344th Centre for Combat Employment and Retraining of Army Aviation Pilots.
Photo: Kremlin.ru

Russia will not move deeper into Europe militarily. Moscow is not seeking a confrontation with the U.S. satellites in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at Torzhok Air Force Base in Tver Region, Russia.

Multiple Western officials have claimed that Moscow will not stop if Kyiv is defeated on the battlefield, and will move further westwards. Putin dismissed such claims by saying that: “This is just nonsense,” noting the disparity in Russian defense spending and the budgets of NATO militaries as around 1 to 10. He explained such ballyhoo by intention of the military pact to intimidate their own population with the aim just to beat the money out of them: “In 2022, the US defence spending amounted to $811 billion, if memory serves, and Russia spent $72 billion. The difference is more than ten-fold.”

The transatlantic Alliance came right up to the Russian borders, president added. NATO has been expanding towards the borders of Russia, not the other way around, the he noted by saying that Russia is merely protecting its own people on its historical territories.

What Moscow will do with NATO F-16 fighter-bombers in Ukrainian air space?

Potential supplies of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine will not change the situation on the battlefield, since Russia will destroy them over Ukrainian airspace irrespective from what kind of airfields they will lift off – from Ukrainian air strips or those located in the third countries as it is doing with Western tanks and other vehicles, Russian President warned.

“Of course, if they are used from airfields of third countries, they become a legitimate target for us, wherever they are located,” Putin said.

Vladimir Putin also reminded that Russia will take into account the fact that F-16 multirole fighter jets can carry nuclear weapons. As is known, they can deliver NW like B61-12 and B61-13.

"And we must take this into account while planning [combat operations]," he continued.

Ukraine has long been asking its Western partners to supply F-16 fighter jets, but NATO has consistently maintained that such planes could not be transferred to Ukraine until Kyiv’s pilots, ground technical crews and air controllers underwent relevant training.

Russian expert community does not believe that any potential F-16s to be given to Ukraine will be piloted by Ukrainian pilots. On the contrary, they will be exclusively piloted by NATO pilots, many Russian observers believe. They also note that there are three major issues related to training Ukrainian pilots for F-16s: lack of ground supports systems for these lets, their inability to practically pilot such hi-tech aircraft in an “A-plus” style, and their poor military and technical English language command.

Russian Air Force has already begun to destroy potential Ukrainian airfields for NATO F-16s.


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