Ukraine hopes that the F-16 fighter jets donated by the West can help them turn the tide of the war. Meanwhile, Russia warned that this would only escalate the conflict.
“We’re going to win this war (with the F-16). Of course, we can’t win right away, but the F-16 can change the game. Western allies have provided what we have to offer.” What we need most right now: air supremacy over the controlled territories,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat told state television on August 21.
For example, there are 8-9 Russian troops in the territory they control in Ukraine, normally they can fire a missile in seconds. However, when Ukraine owns the F-16, it is almost impossible for the Russian side to do so.
“Air control is the key to success on the ground. We need to understand that,” Mr. Ihnat stressed. According to him, Ukraine currently needs 100-128 F-16 fighters to control the sky.
The above comment comes after the Netherlands and Denmark committed to delivering F-16 fighters to Ukraine once Kiev meets the relevant conditions including operating pilots and compatible infrastructure. Denmark has promised to send 19 aircraft, while the Netherlands has a total of 42 F-16s but will further consider whether to transfer the entire fleet to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the decision as “strong, historic”.
The Netherlands and Denmark are leading a coalition of 11 countries in training Ukrainian pilots to fly US-made models. The training program is expected to be completed early next year.
This move of Western countries has been strongly criticized by Russia. Russia’s ambassador to Copenhagen, Boris Barbinm, warned that the decision to aid Ukraine with F-16s “will escalate the conflict”.
“The fact that Denmark has decided to transfer 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine will lead to an escalation of the conflict. By hiding behind the premise that it is Ukraine that must determine the conditions for peace, Denmark finds a way by action. and his words to leave Ukraine with no choice but to continue a military confrontation with Russia,” Ambassador Barbinm said.
Denis Pushilin, head of the separatist Donetsk government appointed by Russia, also said that Western countries’ transfer of F-16s to Ukraine shows that these countries are still looking to prolong the conflict.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Moscow would consider the F-16 a nuclear threat because the fighter jet is capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
However, Danish Defense Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen confirmed that Ukraine can only use this F-16 within its territory.
“We are committed to giving them weapons on the condition that they are used only to repel Russian forces from Ukrainian territory. Not beyond that limit. The same goes for tanks and planes. combat or whatever weapons we pass to them,” Minister Jakob emphasized.