US-built F-16s could ‘accommodate’ nuclear weapons if sent to Ukraine, warns Russia

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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that US-built F-16 fighter jets can “accommodate” nuclear weapons and warned that supplying Kyiv with them will escalate the conflict further.

“We must keep in mind that one of the modifications of the F-16 can ‘accommodate’ nuclear weapons,” Lavrov said in a speech at a military base in Dushanbe in Tajikistan, according to a transcript on the ministry’s website.

“If they do not understand this, then they are worthless as military strategists and planners.”

White House spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday declined to discuss the nuclear capabilities of the F-16 fighters but noted that US President Joe Biden has been consistent that he does not want to see the war escalate, certainly not into the nuclear realm.

“The purpose of providing advanced fighter aircraft is to help Ukraine defend itself defend its airspace and its territorial integrity period,” Kirby said.