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Putin Issues Warning: F-16s Will Be Shot Down

President Vladimir Putin stated late on Wednesday that Russia harbors no intentions of attacking NATO countries such as Poland, the Baltic states, or the Czech Republic.

However, he warned that if the West were to supply F-16 fighters to Ukraine, Russian forces would shoot them down. He emphasized that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has led to a significant crisis in its relations with the West, comparable to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Addressing Russian air force pilots, Putin asserted that while NATO has expanded eastwards since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia does not have aggressive designs on NATO states. He dismissed notions of attacking other countries as “complete nonsense.” Putin accused the United States of exacerbating tensions by supporting Ukraine financially, militarily, and with intelligence, leading to strained relations between Moscow and Washington.

Regarding the potential supply of F-16 fighters to Ukraine, Putin downplayed their significance, stating that they would not alter the situation on the battlefield. He warned that Russian forces would destroy such aircraft, likening them to other military equipment. Putin also highlighted concerns about the potential deployment of nuclear weapons aboard F-16s and declared them legitimate targets if used from airfields in third countries.

Putin’s statements followed remarks by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba earlier in the day, indicating that the aircraft could arrive in Ukraine in the coming months. Ukraine has been seeking F-16s for some time, with Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands among the countries pledging to donate them. Additionally, a coalition of nations has committed to assisting in training Ukrainian pilots for their use.

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