Putin says Russia will not attack NATO members but warns against supplying F-16s to Ukraine

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia has no intention of attacking any NATO countries, including Poland, the Baltic states, or the Czech Republic. However, he warned that F-16 fighter jets supplied to Ukraine by the West would be targeted by Russian forces.

In a discussion with Russian air force pilots, Putin dismissed the notion of aggression towards NATO members, asserting that despite NATO’s eastward expansion since the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Russia harbors no aggressive plans.

“The idea that we will attack some other country – Poland, the Baltic States, and the Czechs are also being scared – is complete nonsense. It’s just drivel,” Putin stated, according to a Kremlin transcript released Thursday.

The Kremlin has repeatedly accused the U.S. of indirectly engaging in conflict with Russia by supporting Ukraine with funds, weaponry, and intelligence, leading to what it describes as an all-time low in U.S.-Russia relations.

Addressing the provision of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a topic of Western promise, Putin opined that such military aid would not alter the conflict’s dynamics.

He asserted that Russian forces would neutralize these jets as they have other military assets provided to Ukraine. Putin highlighted the potential nuclear capability of F-16s, declaring them legitimate targets if deployed from third-country airfields.

Putin’s remarks came after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s earlier statement on Wednesday, expressing anticipation of the aircraft’s arrival in Ukraine within months. More than two years into the conflict, Ukraine has been advocating for F-16s, with Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands among the nations committing to donations and pilot training support.