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Denmark Says Ukraine Can Use F-16s Against Targets in Russia

Tim Felce (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Denmark’s Foreign Minister said Ukraine would be allowed to attack targets inside Russia with F-16 fighter jets it sends as part of military support for Kyiv, Ukrainian media reported Thursday.

“The short answer is yes,” Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen was quoted as saying in Brussels by the news website European Pravda when asked whether Ukrainian pilots would be allowed to strike targets on Russian territory with the U.S.-made warplanes.

“We made it clear from the very beginning… that this is part of self-defense so that it would also be possible to attack military targets on the aggressor’s territory,” Rasmussen added.

He clarified, however, that “this is not a carte blanche for Ukraine to use F-16s to launch indiscriminate attacks into Russia,” according to the Danish daily Kristeligt Dagblad.

“We’re talking about the possibility of weakening the aggressor by taking out military installations on Russian territory,” Rasmussen told reporters.

On Monday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Washington and its allies to drop restrictions on how Ukraine uses Western-supplied weapons despite concerns Putin may use nuclear weapons in response.

Besides Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium have committed to sending F-16s to Ukraine.

Reuters cited an anonymous high-ranking Ukrainian military source as saying earlier this month that the first F-16s would arrive sometime between June and July.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last year that F-16 deliveries to Ukraine would be interpreted as a “nuclear” threat to Moscow because of the aircraft’s ability to carry nuclear weapons.

Russia’s Ambassador in Copenhagen Vladimir Barbin echoed the nuclear threat Thursday, which Danish Foreign Minister Rasmussen dismissed as part of a “tough rhetoric in Russia’s propaganda war.”

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