Moscow has slammed suggestions that the West should send warplanes to Ukraine, labelling the idea that such a transfer of weapons might not escalate tensions “absurd”.
Officials in Moscow took aim at claims that Western powers could get away with sending fighter jets, such as the F-16, to Ukraine without escalating hostilities, with a spokeswoman for the Kremlin going so far as to lambast the suggestion as being “absurd”.
It comes after French president Emmanuel Macron suggested on Monday that the possibility of France sending some of its fighter jets to Ukraine was not “prohibited in principle” so long as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration could give assurances that the aircraft would not be used to escalate the conflict.
However, the suggestion that combat aircraft could be sent to Ukraine without increasing tensions between the West and Russia has been heavily criticised by Moscow, with a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry telling journalists that Macron’s claim that it could be done was not realistic.
“Forgive me, but it’s some kind of absurdity,” the Russian TASS news agency reports spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying during a briefing on Wednesday.
Zakharova went on to berate the French president and the “increasingly aggressive and bellicose rhetoric of Western officials, who have not been shy about making loud statements on the Ukrainian conflict lately”.
“Is the French president really sure that supplying the Kiev regime with arms, heavy weapons and aircraft for combat operations will not escalate the situation?” she asked. “I refuse to believe that a grown man can have such logic.”
“Such statements only increase the already irrepressible appetite of Zelensky’s regime, which, by shelling hospitals and massacring civilians, has clearly demonstrated that Western military injections — how did Mr Macron put it? — will not lead to an escalation of the conflict. Well, of course, they ‘give’ peace. Obviously these planes are going to be used to drop cookies and candy,” she added sarcastically.
While the Russian spokeswoman’s scathing comments on the issue of sending fighter jets to Ukraine may give some in the West pause for thought, it is unlikely to stop discussions of the possibility, which only appears to have been gaining popularity in recent days.
Despite initial hesitancy, especially during the early days of Russia’s renewed invasion in 2022, many political figures across the West are now leaning towards taking an even more hardline interventionist approach to the conflict, with the likes of former British prime minister Boris Johnson now openly calling for fighter jets to be handed to Ukraine.
“This is not the moment to delay any support to Ukraine, this is the moment to double down on our support. Give them what they need,” Johnson said during an interview earlier this week.
“Every time we’ve said it would be a mistake to give such and such an item of weaponry, we end up doing it and it ends up being the right thing for Ukraine,” he continued, demanding: “Give the Ukrainians what they need as fast as possible. Get this done.”