West 'playing with fire' over plans to send F-16s to Ukraine: Lavrov
The Russian FM slams an attempt to "weaken Russia" by "Washington, London and their satellites in the EU."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Sunday underlined that Western countries were "playing with fire" by agreeing to provide Ukraine with US-made F-16 fighter jets, deeming the plans "an unacceptable escalation" of the conflict.
"Certainly, this is an unacceptable escalation. I hope there are sensible people in the West who understand that," Lavrov stressed in an excerpt from a Russian TV interview, slamming an attempt to "weaken Russia" by "Washington, London and their satellites in the EU."
The top Russian diplomat said, "Western political analysts have been discussing how to decolonize Russia."
He continued, "They mean dividing our country. I hope sensible people will abandon their reckless support for the neo-Nazi regime which was created by the West itself."
It is noteworthy that on May 21, United States President Joe Biden announced after the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, that Western nations will begin training Ukrainian pilots on flying F-16 warplanes and other combat aircraft.
After Biden's announcement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately praised it as a "historic decision", saying that it would "greatly enhance our army in the sky."
Last week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell confirmed that a number of countries, including Poland, have begun training Ukrainian pilots on flying the fighter jets.
"I am happy that finally the training of the pilots of the F16s has started in several countries, it will take time but the sooner the better," Borrell said.
Ukraine has taken the choice of training its pilots on the use of F-16 jets without having secured any yet. Yuriy Sak, an advisor to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said the Netherlands is expected to be the first country to send F-16s to Kiev, as reported by Politico.
Sak previously revealed that Kiev is looking to be supplied with 50 jets in the form of contributions made by its allies.
The Ukrainian official told The Washington Post that the first batch of fighter jets is expected to arrive in Ukraine in late September or early October.
It is worth noting that Zelensky has been desperate for fighter jets, repeatedly pushing for advanced Western jets, but Kiev's international supporters had balked at doing so until recently.