In a recent interview with the RT television channel, Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov issued a strong warning that Moscow would be prepared to give a military-tactical response if F-16 fighter jets were to appear in the skies over Ukraine. Lavrov emphasized the potential threat posed by the F-16s, stating that these aircraft could be equipped to carry nuclear weapons. He further highlighted Russia’s concerns by mentioning their presentation of a “very serious demarche” within the United Nations Security Council panel known as the “nuclear five.”

Moscow’s Military-Technical Response

Russia has long made it clear that it would not tolerate the presence of the F-16 fighter jets in the skies over Ukraine. In response to a question regarding such a scenario, Lavrov told the state-controlled news network that a military-technical reaction would surely ensue. While the specifics of what kind of response the country were not outlined, the foreign minister’s remarks imply that Moscow will take decisive action to safeguard its interests in the region.

This strong opposition of Russia against the transfer of F-16s in Ukraine, apart from the aircraft’s air superiority, is its ability to carry nuclear weapons. Moreover, Lavrov underscored that Moscow had already brought up this matter publicly and presented a diplomatic petition within the UN Security Council “nuclear five” panel, which includes its permanent members Russia, the United States, China, France, and the United Kingdom. This panel is mainly composed of nuclear-weapon stated under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The mention of the F-16 aircraft being equipped to carry nuclear weapons raises the stakes in an already tense situation in the region. It could significantly escalate the conflict, dragging the nearly 16-month-old war furthermore.

Plea for F-16s to Boost Ukraine’s Air Superiority

Among the military assets Russia targeted at the onset of the war was Ukraine’s air superiority, and ever since Kyiv has been pleading to its Western allies for fighter jets to provide the lacking air support to its frontline and protection for its civilians against the devastating impact of ongoing bombardments.

While Russia warns that the presence of the F-16s could further worsen the situation, Ukraine, through its President, Volodymyr Zelensky, highlighted that without the sophisticated aircraft, the possible extension of the warfare and result in more casualties and damage in the process without capable fighter jets.

Expressing their support and sympathy, both Poland and Slovakia have already pledged warplanes to Ukraine. However, without the green light from the United States, the transfer of the F-16s will not be possible. Despite the numerous pleas it received, Washington has declined the request, citing the effectiveness of ground-based defense systems in countering Russia’s formidable air force. In other words, fighter jets in the Ukrainian skies are not necessary.