Russia warns against strikes on Crimea, raises F-16 issue

TEHRAN, May 22 (MNA) – Russia has once again warned the West against sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, saying such a move would raise the question of NATO's direct involvement in the war.

US President Joe Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky at the G7 summit in Japan that the US, along with its partners, was going to launch a training program for Ukraine’s military pilots on the fourth-generation fighter aircraft including F-16s.

Sputnik quoted Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov as saying that the United States must understand that Ukrainian strikes on Crimea would be viewed as an attack on any other region of Russia, while the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv raises the question of NATO’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

"I would like to warn representatives of the administration against frivolous judgments on Crimea, especially in terms of ‘blessing’ the Kyiv regime for air attacks on the peninsula. I’d like to remind you that strikes on this territory are considered by us as an attack on any other subject of the Russian Federation. It is important that the United States be fully aware of the Russian response," Antonov said.

He added that "every specialist knows that in Ukraine there is no infrastructure for the operation of the F-16, nor is there the required number of pilots and maintenance personnel. What will happen if American fighters take off from NATO airfields, controlled by foreign ‘volunteers’?"

On Saturday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the time was yet not right for Ukraine to have F-16s, adding that the United States and its allies were going to decide which countries would supply these aircraft to Kyiv and in what number.


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