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22 Feb, 2024 08:56

Arming Ukraine with F-16s could trigger nuclear war – Medvedev

Giving Kiev new military capabilities poses the risk of unintended escalation, the former Russian president said
Arming Ukraine with F-16s could trigger nuclear war – Medvedev

Supplying Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets poses a risk of triggering a nuclear conflict, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned.

NATO member states are currently training Ukrainian pilots to operate F-16s ahead of the expected transfer of the aircraft. Kiev has been asking for the Western fighter jets for months, saying they were needed to combat Russian air superiority.

”An accidental, unintentional outbreak of a nuclear conflict is not something to be discarded, which is why all those machinations around Ukraine are dangerous,” Medvedev said in an extensive interview with Russian journalists, as quoted by TASS on Thursday.

The deputy head of Russia’s National Security Council cited the US-designed aircraft as a possible trigger, noting that Kiev wants them despite having no ground infrastructure to operate them.

”So if one of those planes takes off from a NATO nation [on a Ukrainian mission] – what would that be? An attack on Russia. I shall not describe what could happen next,” he said. “Such a development may not be even sanctioned by the NATO leadership and the US.”

Russian officials previously warned that delivering F-16s to Ukraine would be highly problematic, considering that the jets can deploy nuclear gravity bombs.

Medvedev said Russia’s standoff with the US and its allies was not at a stage that would force people to hide in a nuclear shelter, but described it as worse than the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The doomsday clock “is ticking” and has “sped up considerably,” he added.

The doomsday clock – a representation of the likelihood of a global catastrophe maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – is currently 90 seconds to midnight, having advanced 10 seconds last year.

The clock was first launched in 1947, when it was set at 23:53. Its most optimistic time was in the 1990s, when it was 17 minutes to midnight. Its current time is the closest it has ever been to midnight or ‘doomsday.’