In a statement published on May 22, Antonov said: “There is no infrastructure for operating the F-16 in Ukraine and the necessary number of pilots and maintenance personnel is also missing. What would happen if American warplanes took off from airports of NATO controlled by foreign volunteers?”
F-16 fighter jet. Photo: Reuters
According to Reuters news agency, US President Joe Biden on May 19 backed a program to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured Biden that the plane would not be damaged.
Antonov said any Ukrainian attack on Crimea would be seen as an attack on Russia. “It is important that the United States is fully aware of Russia’s reaction,” warned the Russian ambassador.
In the latest development in the conflict in Ukraine, Kiev authorities said on May 21 that their forces were advancing around Bakhmut, aiming to besiege the city after Moscow congratulated the private military organization. Wagner and the Russian army took over. A day earlier, Russia said it had completely captured the city.
Ukraine’s top military leader, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said troops from Kiev were moving towards Russian forces in the suburbs and closing in on the “tactical encirclement” of the city, which was once home to 70,000 people.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said the Ukrainian army is still protecting infrastructure and industrial facilities and has captured part of the area.