Russian official warns Western countries face ‘enormous risks’ if they supply Ukraine with F-16s

A top Russian official warned Western countries of “enormous risks” if they supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter aircrafts.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the state-run Russian news agency TASS that Ukraine’s Western allies are continuing to escalate the conflict, and the Kremlin will take their plan to send the F-16s into account.

“We can see that Western countries continue to stick to an escalation scenario, which carries enormous risks for them. In any case, we will take it into account when making plans. We have all the necessary means to achieve our goals,” Grushko said.

A senior administration official told The Hill that President Biden informed other world leaders at the Group of Seven (G7) summit on Friday that the United States will support a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots to use F-16s.

The official said the U.S. hopes the training can start in the coming week and it will take months to complete. They said the countries involved will decide when to provide Ukraine with the jets, how many to provide and who will provide them.

They added that the training will take place outside Ukraine at sites in Europe.

F-16s are fourth-generation aircraft that are significant upgrades to the Soviet Union-era jets that Ukraine has been flying.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has made an in-person appearance at the G7 summit, has been pushing for Ukraine’s Western allies to provide the jets for months. Biden had previously said in February that he was ruling out sending the jets at least “for now.”

Zelensky said last month that he “raised the issue” of providing F-16s to Ukraine during a call with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

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