Charging the US and its allies with “playing with fire” by increasing support for Ukraine amid the conflict with Moscow, including planning to provide it US-made F-16s, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the delivery of the fighters would be an “unacceptable esclation”.
“Of course, it’s an unacceptable escalation… I think there are reasonable people in the West who understand this. But everything is being dictated by Washington, London, and their satellites inside the EU,” he said on potential deliveries of American-made warplanes to Ukraine in an interview with Russia 1 TV on Sunday, RT reported.
According to Lavrov, it is Poland and the Baltic States – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia – that are “executing on the ground the aim set by the US to weaken Russia, deliver it a strategic defeat”.
Some in the West “are already discussing ‘decolonisation’ of Russia, meaning the dismembering of our country,” Lavrov said, warning that “this is playing with fire. There can be no doubts about that”.
“I hope reasonable people will step away from unconditional support for the neo-Nazi regime that the West itself created,” he added.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has been pressing his Western backers for F-16 warplanes for months, arguing they are crucial for defending Ukrainian airspace amid Russia’s missile attacks on military facilities and energy infrastructure.
At the G20 summit last week, US President Biden Joe Biden said that Washington would support efforts by the UK, the Netherlands, and other European countries to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16s. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated at the event that the US “will work with our allies to determine when planes will be delivered, who will be delivering them, and how many”.
Several outlets reported that the jets will not be provided by the US, but that the Biden administration would instead allow its allies to transfer their F-16s to Kiev.