Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stern and explicit warning: any F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft provided to Ukraine by NATO allies will be targeted and destroyed by Russian forces, “regardless of their location.” Despite this, Putin clarified that Russia does not intend to start conflicts with any state in the alliance.

“Russia does not pursue hostile objectives toward these countries,” Putin said, specifically alluding to NATO member nations such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the Czech Republic, according to a Kremlin transcript released Thursday.

“The notion that we will proceed to attack other nations – including the fear expressed by Poland, the Baltics and the Czech Republic – is completely baseless. “They are mere fallacies,” Putin told a group of Russian airmen during his visit to the 344th Army Aviation Center in Torzhok, located 260 kilometers northwest of Moscow.

Putin reaffirms his position on the possible supply of F-16s to Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin vows to hunt down F-16 fighting falcon
F-16 Firing a Missile

The Russian government has denounced the involvement of NATO and the United States in what it considers a proxy war against Russia by providing financing, weapons and intelligence to Kyiv.

Following the announcement last year that Washington would facilitate the transfer of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Denmark, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands – all NATO members – to Ukraine, Putin argued that these aircraft would not influence the course of the war. On Thursday, he reiterated this argument.

“If they proceed with the delivery of the F-16s, and everything indicates that they are discussing it and probably training the pilots, this will not alter the dynamics on the ground,” Putin said. “We will annihilate them just as today we have eliminated tanks, armored personnel carriers and other equipment, including multiple launch rocket systems.”

The Russian leader referred to recent confirmations of significant losses by Ukraine, including several American-made M1 Abrams tanks, a HIMARS mobile rocket launcher and a Patriot air defense system, considered considerable defeats for Kyiv.

Putin stresses the status of a legitimate target of the F-16 outside Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin vows to hunt down F-16 fighting falcon

 

Putin has vehemently stressed that the F-16, capable of carrying a nuclear arsenal, will be considered a legitimate target, even if it does not operate directly within Ukrainian territory.

A coalition of fourteen nations has declared its intention to provide these aircraft and train Ukrainian airmen, with the first F-16s expected to arrive in Ukraine sometime next summer.

“Undoubtedly, if they are deployed from airfields in third countries, they are classified as legitimate targets for us, regardless of their location,” Putin said, pointing to the possibility of Russia attacking such aircraft if they are based outside Ukraine but operated by Ukrainian forces.

This month, the Russian president also raised the prospect of a major showdown with NATO, suggesting that “in the current world scenario, everything is plausible.” He has made a point of describing Russia’s unsolicited incursion into Ukraine as an indirect confrontation between Moscow and the international military coalition.

The versatility and development of the F-16 Fighting Falcon

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a high-performance single-engine supersonic fighter originally created by General Dynamics for the service of the United States Air Force.

Initially conceived as an air supremacy fighter for daytime operations, it has evolved into a versatile all-weather fighter. Since its inauguration in 1976, more than 4,600 units have been manufactured.

Although the US Air Force has stopped purchasing the Fighting Falcon, Lockheed Martin continues to produce advanced versions for export, demonstrating the enduring effectiveness and global demand for this aircraft model.