Western countries are sticking to an escalation which carries "enormous risks" for them if they supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Saturday, according to TASS News agency.
"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," he said on the sidelines of the 31st Assembly of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy when asked to comment on the possible supplies of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine.
Earlier, on Friday, US President Joe Biden informed G7 leaders that America will support a joint effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s, reported CNN citing a senior administration official.
The official also stated that the training is not expected to happen in the US but maybe in Europe. But US personnel will participate in the training alongside allies and partners in Europe, the official said.
It is expected to take several months to complete and the official said the hope is it will begin "in the coming weeks," according to CNN.
The decision marks a stark turnaround for Biden, who said earlier this year that he did not believe that Ukraine needed the F-16s.
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The decision to support the training initiative came together very quickly, officials said and was made by Biden following meetings with G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, where the topic of F-16s to Ukraine was a key point of discussion.
In recent days, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also been pushing particularly for countries that have the jets in their stockpile to send them to Ukraine so that the country can better defend itself against Russia's daily aerial attacks, according to CNN.
"As the training takes place over the coming months, our coalition of countries participating in this effort will decide when to actually provide jets, how many we will provide, and who will provide them," the official said.
The official added, "To date, the United States and our allies and partners have focused on providing Ukraine with the vast majority of the systems, weapons, and training it requires to conduct offensive operations this spring and summer. Discussions about improving the Ukrainian Air Force reflect our long-term commitment to Ukraine's self-defence," CNN reported.
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