Russia warns all airfields hosting Kyiv’s F-16 fighter jets are legitimate targets – even if they aren’t in Ukraine
06/13/2024 // Richard Brown // Views

Any airfields hosting F-16 fighter jets supplied by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to Ukraine, whether within or outside the country, will be considered legitimate targets by the Russian military if the F-16s flying out of those airfields engage in combat missions against Russian forces.

This is the warning given by Andrey Kartapolov, chairman of the Russian State Duma's Defense Committee and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Kartapolov's comments come as Kyiv prepares to receive its first delivery of American-made fighter jets from its NATO allies, following the training of Ukrainian pilots to operate them. (Related: F-16 deployments will make European air bases INSTANT TARGETS for Russia.)

In a statement to RIA Novosti, Kartapolov clarified that if the F-16s are not used for combat purposes or are merely stored at foreign airbases to transfer them to Ukraine for equipping, maintenance and deployment from Ukrainian airfields, Russia would not target these foreign bases.

However, if the jets launch from foreign bases and conduct sorties and strikes against Russian forces, both the aircraft and their host airfields would become "legitimate targets," according to Kartapolov. He asserted, "As for [our ability] to shoot [them] down, we can shoot down anyone, anywhere."

Most Ukrainian F-16s will be stationed outside the country

Kartapolov's statement follows remarks by Serhii Holubtsov, the Ukrainian Air Force Command's chief of aviation, who remarked that some of the F-16s donated to Kyiv by the West would be stationed at foreign airbases.

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Holubtsov explained that only a portion of the jets would be directly stationed in Ukrainian territory, corresponding to the number of trained pilots the Ukrainian Air Force has. The remaining jets would be kept in reserve at "safe airbases" abroad to avoid being targeted by the Russian military.

Holubtsov noted that Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands have agreed to transfer F-16s to Ukraine. Although he did not specify the exact number, he estimated that between 30 and 40 planes would be donated, with the potential for more in the future.

He emphasized the strategic importance of these jets in strengthening Ukraine's air capabilities amidst the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned that Moscow would perceive the delivery of F-16 fighters to Ukraine as a nuclear threat, citing the jets' historical role in the U.S.-led bloc’s joint nuclear missions.

Lavrov elaborated that the deployment of such advanced aircraft could escalate tensions, suggesting that their presence would be seen as an increased risk of nuclear confrontation. Nevertheless, Lavrov emphasized that the U.S.-designed jets would not alter the battlefield dynamics and would be shot down and destroyed like any other foreign weapons supplied to Ukraine.

The F-16 fighter jets require high-standard runways and reinforced hangars to protect them from ground attacks. The number of Ukrainian air bases meeting these requirements remains uncertain. Russia is likely to quickly target any bases capable of accommodating these jets once they arrive.

Learn more about the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and its Western allies and Russia at

Watch this short clip showing Ukrainian pilots training to fly F-16s.

This video is from the channel The Prisoner on

More related stories:

Russian foreign minister: Delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine a "deliberate" signal that NATO is pushing for nuclear war.

Putin vows to DESTROY all F-16 fighter jets that make their way to Ukraine.

Putin promises to DESTROY all those U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets piloted by Ukrainian soldiers.

Ukrainians are not trained to operate U.S. F-16 fighter jets, would not be Russia-Ukraine war game-changer, says Jake Sullivan.

North Korea blasts "sinister" U.S. approval of F-16 jets for Ukraine.

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