F16s can carry nuclear weapons, but they won't change things in Ukraine

(Reuters) – Russian news agencies quoted Ukraine as saying that if it were equipped with F-16 fighters, the plane would not change the situation on the battlefield. President Vladimir Putin As military pilots said on Wednesday.

But he was quoted as saying that the fighters could carry nuclear weapons and Moscow would have to take that into account in its military planning.

“If they supply F-16s, and they are talking about this and apparently training pilots, this will not change the situation on the battlefield,” TASS quoted Putin as telling pilots at a gathering northwest of Moscow.

“We will destroy aircraft just as we today destroy tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment, including multiple rocket launchers.”

Putin noted that the fighters have the capacity to carry nuclear weapons, “and we also have to take that into account in the way we organize things.”

He said that F-16s would be legitimate targets wherever they were.

He was quoted as saying, “Of course, if they are used from airports in a third country, they become legitimate targets for us wherever they are.”

Putin's comments came in the wake of statements made by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba earlier in the day that the plane should arrive in Ukraine in the coming months.

Ukraine, now more than two years into an all-out war against Russia, has been seeking F-16s for several months.

Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands were among the countries that pledged to donate F-16 aircraft. A coalition of countries promised to help train Ukrainian pilots in their use.

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(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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