Denmark Allows Ukraine Use of F-16s for Strikes Inside Russia

Ahead of their imminent arrival in Ukraine, Denmark announced that it is allowing Kyiv to use its promised F-16 fighter jets to strike targets inside Russia.

The decision, publicized by Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, comes amid increasing calls to give the war-torn nation greater freedom to strike deep into Russian territory.

Since the invasion began in February 2022, Ukraine has been restricted by most of its Western allies to using their donated weapons only inside Ukraine over fear of war escalation.

According to Rasmussen, the broader use of F-16s in Ukraine would be “within the rules of war” because Moscow started the conflict and Kyiv is only defending itself.

“Even if they are inside Russia, they are legitimate military targets because Russia attacked Ukraine,” he told reporters in Brussels. “It fully complies with the rules of war.”

This appears to be the first time Ukraine has been allowed to use Western-supplied warplanes to strike Russia.

Germany, Canada, France, Poland, and Sweden had already given their approval to use their missiles and other donated weapons for strikes on Russian soil. The US followed suit, but only to defend the under-fire Kharkiv region.

Sole Condition

Denmark’s approval means Kyiv can use the fourth-generation combat jets to strike Russian weapons depots and other facilities aiding the war in Ukraine.

This gives the war-torn nation an opportunity to weaken Russian forces, which have been gaining an upper hand in Ukraine.

However, Rasmussen clarified that the approval would not mean “carte blanche.”

He said Ukraine is still prohibited from using the F-16 jets to launch “arbitrary attacks” into Russia, which could harm civilians.

The first batch of Danish F-16s is expected to arrive in Kyiv by the second quarter of this year.

Possible Escalation?

Prior to the announcement, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Ukraine is allowed to use Denmark’s donated weapons on Russian territory.

This immediately triggered Moscow, with Russian Ambassador to Denmark Vladimir Barbin saying the decision “could lead to an uncontrolled development” in the war.

Asked if he was afraid of a potential escalation because of the move, Rasmussen said he was not worried at all.

“If we are talking about a risk of an actual attack on our territory, then it is not something I am worried about,” he stressed.

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