Vladimir Putin’s ally issues nuclear threat as NATO allies scramble to give Ukraine F-16s | World | News

Russia has warned the West that delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine could result in nuclear war. Kyiv is set to receive its first batch of the US-made military planes in the coming weeks.

Belgium along with a number of other Nato members have pledged to supply Ukraine with the fighters, so Kyiv can beef up its air defences.

The decision has angered the Kremlin and caused panic among Russia‘s generals, who point out the planes are capable of firing nuclear weapons, although Kyiv does not possess any.

Putin has repeatedly accused the West of pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war by continuing its military support for Ukraine.

In the latest Kremlin warning, Russia‘s Foreign Minister said the delivery of F-16s to Kyiv would be perceived as a “signal action” by NATO “in the nuclear sphere”.

Sergey Lavrov told Ria Novosti: “They are trying to tell us that the United States and NATO would stop at nothing in Ukraine.

“Nevertheless, we hope that the Russian-Belarusian drills on the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons that are underway now will knock some sense into our opponents by reminding them about the catastrophic consequences of further nuclear escalation.”

On Tuesday Belgium promised to deliver a first batch of F-16s to Ukraine this year.

The two nations signed a security agreement this week that includes supplying a total of 30 jets to Ukraine.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told a press briefing: “”Our aim is to be able to provide first aircraft before the end of this year.

“We will do everything in our capacity to deliver some planes already this year.”

F-16s will add an additional layer to Ukraine’s current air defence artillery systems.

Kyiv will likely use its F-16s to intercept inbound Russian cruise missiles and other less-advanced surface-to-air missiles.

The fighters’ radar and missiles will also allow them to hunt enemy targets at greater distances.

As a multi-role fighter, the F-16 can additionally provide air support to Ukrainian ground operations, help deter Russia from gaining control over additional airspace, as well as prevent Russian aircraft from conducting close air-support operations along the front lines.

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