Won’t start a war with NATO: Putin

Kyiv, Ukraine: Russian President Vladimir Putin scoffed at the possibility of his country launching an attack on a NATO member, calling it “sheer nonsense,” but warned that any Western air base hosting U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets that are slated for deployment in Ukraine would be a “legitimate target” for the Kremlin’s forces.

“Their statements about our alleged intention to attack Europe after Ukraine is sheer nonsense,” Putin said late Wednesday, referring to warnings in the U.S. and Western Europe that Russia could turn its sights on other countries unless it’s stopped.

He noted that the U.S. defense budget is more than 10 times higher than Russia’s.

“In view of that, are we going to wage a war against NATO? It’s ravings,” he told military pilots during a visit to an air base.

Ukraine is awaiting the delivery of F-16s, which will increase military pressure on Russia, from its Western partners. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last year that 42 F-16s had been promised. Ukrainian pilots have been training in the West for months on how to fly the warplanes.

Putin warned Ukraine’s Western allies against providing air bases in their countries from where the F-16s could launch sorties against the Kremlin’s forces. Those bases would become a “legitimate target,” he said.

“F-16s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and we will also need to take that into account while organizing our combat operations,” Putin added.

Military analysts have said the arrival of F-16s won’t be a game-changer in view of Russia’s massive air force and sophisticated air defense systems, though Ukrainian officials have welcomed them as an opportunity to hit back at Russia’s air dominance.

Putin insisted the F-16s “won’t change the situation on the battlefield.”

“We will destroy their warplanes just as we destroy their tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment, including multiple rocket launchers,” he said.

Image courtesy of YouTube

Share this post