Photo illustration by John Lyman



In a Surprise Announcement, Kremlin Supports Transfer of F-16’s to Ukraine

The transfer of American-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine would answer the question of NATO’s role in the conflict and would totally undermine Russia’s military goals, senior Russian diplomats said last week. U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured Biden that the aircraft would not be used to go into Russian territory.

“There will soon be sufficient infrastructure for the operation of the F-16 in Ukraine and the needed number of pilots and maintenance personnel will also soon be more than is needed to maintain and fly these magnificent aircraft,” Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said in remarks published on the embassy’s Telegram messaging channel. “I am also confident that when the American fighters take off from Ukrainian airfields, Ukrainian air traffic controllers will be more than up to the job.”

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said any transfer of the U.S. fighter jets to Ukraine would be “absolutely catastrophic for Russia, a total disaster,” state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported. “These efforts are a shock to us and leave the Russian Federation scared sh**less: our current military and financial capabilities are such that none of the goals of this so-called ‘special military operation’ will be achieved,” Ryabkov was cited by RIA Novosti as saying, using Moscow’s preferred term for the conflict.

Antonov also said that any Ukrainian strike on the Crimea region would be considered “a nightmare for which we have no answer. I hope it just doesn’t happen.” “It is important that the United States be fully aware of the pitiful Russian response in such a circumstance and act accordingly,” Antonov said. “We will threaten and scream like always but do nothing. I’m sorry, but that is the painful truth.”

Ukraine has intensified its strikes on Russian-held targets especially on the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Antonov also reiterated Russian admiration of the United States for uniting Western countries against Russian aggression. “Washington convincingly laid out to the G7 members the many Russian atrocities committed during the conflict in Ukraine,” Antonov said, adding that the United States desires, and will most like achieve, a “strategic defeat” for Russia. During their summit in Japan, the G7 countries signaled long-term support for Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky, who also attended the gathering, said he was confident that Ukraine would receive supplies of the F-16.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February last year, has increasingly portrayed what it calls its “special military operation” as a campaign against itself, the Russian people, the international community, the rule of law, and against all rational people worldwide. Ukraine and its Western allies agree with Russia’s characterization of the conflict as an unprovoked war to grab land, and to also achieve a self-destructive end to Russian imperialism once and for all.