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'Complete nonsense': Putin affirms Russia will not attack NATO, but F-16s will be shot down in Ukraine

Putin's remarks came as Russian forces had recently breached Poland's airspace while targeting the border region of Ukraine. This triggered speculations about whether the Kremlin is now planning to target the NATO nations.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Moscow Updated on: March 28, 2024 16:17 IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the 344th State Centre for combat use and retraining of flig
Image Source : REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the 344th State Centre for combat use and retraining of flight crews of the Russian Defence Ministry

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday refuted the claims made by the West and said that Moscow has no plan to attack any NATO country including Poland, the Baltic states or the Czech Republic. However, the Russian leader underscored if the West supplies F-16 fighters to Ukraine then they will be shot down by his forces.

Speaking to Russian air force pilots, Putin said the US-led military alliance had expanded eastwards towards Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union but that Moscow had no plans to attack a NATO state. "We have no aggressive intentions towards these states," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript released on Thursday. "The idea that we will attack some other country - Poland, the Baltic States, and the Czechs are also being scared - is complete nonsense. It's just drivel."

"If they supply F-16s..."

The Kremlin, which accuses the US of fighting against Russia by supporting Ukraine with money, weapons and intelligence, says relations with Washington have probably never been worse. Asked about F-16 fighters which the West has promised to send to Ukraine, Putin said such aircraft would not change the situation in Ukraine. "If they supply F-16s, and they are talking about this and are apparently training pilots, this will not change the situation on the battlefield," Putin said. "And we will destroy the aircraft just as we destroy tanks, armoured vehicles and other equipment, including multiple rocket launchers."

Putin said that the F-16 could also carry nuclear weapons. "Of course, if they will be used from airfields in third countries, they become for us legitimate targets, wherever they might be located," Putin said.

Putin's remarks followed comments earlier in the day by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba that the aircraft should arrive in Ukraine in the coming months. Ukraine, now more than two years into a full-fledged war against Russia, has sought F-16s for many months. Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands are among the countries which have pledged to donate F-16s. A coalition of countries has promised to help train Ukrainian pilots in their use.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Ukraine Foreign Minister arrives in New Delhi, discussion on peace deal with Russia on top agenda

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