Putin: No NATO aggression, but caution on F-16s in Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin clarified on Wednesday that Russia harbors no intentions of launching attacks on NATO countries such as Poland, the Baltic states, or the Czech Republic. However, he issued a stern warning that Russian forces would retaliate by shooting down any F-16 fighters provided to Ukraine by Western powers.

Publication: 28.03.2024 - 11:15
Putin: No NATO aggression, but caution on F-16s in Ukraine
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Russia's incursion into Ukraine in February 2022 has ignited the most severe rift in its relations with the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Addressing Russian air force pilots, Putin underscored NATO's eastward expansion since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 but emphasized Russia's lack of aggression toward NATO members. "We have no aggressive intentions towards these states," Putin stated, as per a Kremlin transcript released on Thursday. "The notion of us attacking other countries - Poland, the Baltic States, and the Czech Republic - is baseless. It's mere rhetoric."

The Kremlin, accusing the U.S. of supporting Ukraine with financial aid, weaponry, and intelligence, asserts that its relations with Washington are currently at an all-time low.

Regarding the proposed deployment of F-16 fighters to Ukraine, Putin dismissed their significance in altering the Ukrainian conflict dynamics. "Supplying F-16s, as they're contemplating and seemingly training pilots for, will not shift the situation on the battlefield," Putin remarked. "And we will neutralize these aircraft just as we neutralize tanks, armored vehicles, and other military hardware, including multiple rocket launchers."

Putin also noted the potential nuclear capabilities of F-16s. "Should they be deployed from airfields in third-party nations, they become legitimate targets for us, regardless of their location," Putin warned.

Putin's comments came in response to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba's announcement earlier in the day, suggesting that the F-16s would soon arrive in Ukraine.

Having endured over two years of conflict with Russia, Ukraine has actively pursued the acquisition of F-16s for several months. Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands are among the countries committed to donating F-16s, with a coalition of nations pledging support for the training of Ukrainian pilots in their operation.

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