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Russia says supplying F-16 jets to Ukraine would carry 'colossal' risks for West - TASS

FILE PHOTO: NATO holds an air display event in Poland

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Western countries will run "colossal risks" if they supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, TASS news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying on Saturday.

Grushko was responding to a question about the implications of providing the jets, which Ukraine has been requesting from NATO countries.

It has not yet won commitments for delivery of the planes, but U.S. President Joe Biden told G7 leaders on Friday that Washington supports joint allied training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s, senior U.S. officials said.

"We see that Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario. It involves colossal risks for themselves," Grushko was quoted as saying.

"In any case, this will be taken into account in all our plans, and we have all the necessary means to achieve the goals we have set."

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Colonel Yuri Ignat told Espreso TV, "We will win this war" once Kyiv deploys F-16 fighters, since they could provide defensive cover in areas that were out of range of anti-aircraft missiles.

"We need F-16s to become an integral part of our air defence. These fighters can engage aerial targets from both high and low altitudes," he said, adding that the jets can carry advanced weapons.

"By utilising F-16s, our ground troops will be able to swiftly liberate occupied Ukrainian territories by targeting enemy command posts, military groups and logistics supply chains," he said.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Mark Trevelyan and David Ljunggren, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Cynthia Osterman)