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30 May, 2024 17:40

EU state hints at use of F-16 jets to strike Russia

As long as the attacks are aimed at military targets, they will be within the bounds of international law, Denmark has said
EU state hints at use of F-16 jets to strike Russia

Kiev would be acting “within the rules of war” if it used Western-supplied F-16 fighter jets to strike military targets in Russia, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said on Thursday.

Denmark is part of a coalition of countries that promised to procure the US-designed jets for Ukraine last year, although none have so far been delivered. Copenhagen vowed to provide 19 of over 40 aircraft pledged by the group. In May, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the first batch of planes would arrive in Ukraine within the month. 

According to Rasmussen, Denmark’s plan to give Kiev the jets does not violate international law, while Ukraine is also within its right to use the aircraft in question to attack targets inside Russia, as long as they are of a military nature.

“We are talking about the possibility of weakening the aggressor by taking out military facilities on Russian territory… It is completely within the rules of war that a country that is attacked defends itself. It also includes the right to go after military facilities on the attacking party’s own territory,” the minister said at a press briefing in Brussels.

Rasmussen’s remarks came amid increasingly bold statements from Western leaders about attacks within Russia. Just last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged members of the US-led bloc to reconsider their policies and let Ukraine use Western weapons to launch strikes deep into Russian territory. The Danish minister, however, stressed that the attacks should not target civilian infrastructure.

“This is not a carte blanche for Ukraine to use F-16 to launch indiscriminate attacks into Russia. It is also not in Ukraine’s interests to take on the kind of warfare that you have from the Russian side, where you go after residential buildings. That’s not what we’re talking about,” he said.

Russia has long said that Western arms supplies to Kiev prolong the conflict but have no chance of changing its outcome. It has also warned that it would regard the F-16s sent to Ukraine as a nuclear threat because of the jets’ ability to carry atomic weapons. In an interview published earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow would consider deliveries of the fighter jets a “deliberate signaling action by NATO in the nuclear sphere,” cautioning the West against potential nuclear escalation, which could result in “catastrophic consequences.”