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West ‘playing with fire’ by supplying Kiev with F-16s: Lavrov

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A US-made F-16 aircraft of the Turkish Stars aerobatic team performs during an air show in Istanbul, Turkey September 20, 2018. (File photo by Reuters)

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned Western nations that they are "playing with fire" by supplying US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Undoubtedly, Western countries willing to give Ukraine US-made F-16 fighter jets are “playing with fire,” Lavrov said on Sunday, describing the move as an “unacceptable escalation” of the persisting conflict.

The Russian top diplomat further slammed the move as an attempt by “Washington, London and their satellites in the EU” to “weaken Russia.”

Earlier, Russia had warned against sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, saying the move would raise the question of the US-led NATO forces' direct military involvement in the war.

Initially, US President Joe Biden had said that the US would not provide Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jets much sought by Kiev.

Earlier this month, however, he told leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries gathered in Japan that Washington was prepared to help train the Ukrainian pilots of F-16 fighter jets that were to be donated to Kiev.

Since Russia launched its special military operation in Donbas, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking the United States to provide F-16s fighter jets alongside a wide range of other weapons.

So far, there have only been offers by the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada to do pilot training courses.

They have all announced their readiness to train Ukrainian pilots, but it is yet unclear who will provide the US-made F-16s.

Western nations have already supplied Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, tanks and armored vehicles and communication systems.

Russia has repeatedly said that the collective Western nations are engaged in a proxy war with Russia over Ukraine, warning that the conflict could escalate into a much bigger fight.

Moscow also insists that Western nations must refrain from the direct military confrontation between the US-led NATO forces and Russian troops.

In this regard, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said last week that broader military involvement and providing more destructive and advanced weapons by Western nations to Ukraine increases the probability of a “nuclear apocalypse.”

“The more weapons are supplied, the more dangerous the world will be,” warned Russia’s former president.

“And the more destructive these weapons are, the more likely the scenario becomes of what is commonly called a nuclear apocalypse,” he said.

Medvedev, who is currently serving as deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council and is seen as a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had warned earlier that if Russia loses the conflict in Ukraine, a nuclear war could break out.

“The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war,” Medvedev warned in a Telegram post, adding that “nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends.”

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