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Kiev’s Plan to Store F-16s in NATO States Raises the Risk of World War III

It can’t be ruled out that Zelensky might task one of his pilots with carrying out a mission directly from NATO territory without first stopping at a Kiev-controlled airfield in order to provoke Russia into striking the base from which it departed in self-defense.

Ukrainian Air Force head of aviation Sergey Golubtsov told US state-run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an interview over the weekend that Kiev plans to store some of its F-16s in NATO states for reserve and training purposes. While this might sound like a pragmatic policy, particularly since it would deter Russia from destroying its entire fleet since President Putin recently mocked speculation about him plotting to attack NATO as “bullshit”, it actually raises the risk of World War III.

To explain, although US Air Force chief Frank Kendell claimed last summer that the F-16s are “not going to be a game-changer” for Ukraine and Golubtsov himself confirmed in his latest interview that they’re “not a panacea and we do not wear rose-colored glasses”, both downplay the nuclear dimension. President Putin brought it up earlier this spring when he noted that “F-16 aircraft can also carry nuclear weapons, and we will also have to heed this while organising our combat operations.”

The Russian leader also warned that “we would see them as legitimate targets if they operate from the airfields of third countries, no matter where they are located.” Mutual mistrust between Russia and the US is at a record low and continues falling by the week, made all the worse by Ukraine’s recent attack(s) against Russia’s early nuclear warning systems that might have been tacitly approved by America. This comes as the US is playing a dangerous game of nuclear chicken with Russia.

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