Putin says F-16 fighter jets departing from third nations will be shot down

Russian President Vladimir Putin says F-16 fighter jets to be supplied by the West to Ukraine will be targeted by Russian forces even if they depart from military bases in third countries.

Putin made the remark when he was speaking to Russian air force pilots on Wednesday.

He said that if F-16 fighters take off from airfields in third countries, they will become legitimate targets for Russia. He added it should be taken into account that the F-16s can carry nuclear weapons.

Putin also said that if Western countries supply Ukraine with F-16 fighters, the aircraft will not alter the situation on the battlefield, and Russia will destroy them just as it destroys tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment.

Putin hinted that Moscow has no plan to attack NATO members, calling such a plan complete nonsense. He pointed out that defense spending by the United States is more than 10-times that of Russia.

His comments followed an announcement earlier in the day by Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba who said that F-16 fighters could appear in Ukraine's skies as early as this summer.

Ukraine has long called on Western countries to provide it with F-16s. The Netherlands and Denmark have decided to do so. Training for Ukrainian pilots has already begun.