By supporting the delivery of advanced Western fighter jets to Ukraine, the US risks triggering an all-out nuclear stand-off, North Korean Defense Minister Kang Sun-nam said on Thursday, as quoted by state-run media.
According to the KCNA news agency, the minister argued that the Ukraine crisis is “an inevitable product of the hegemonic ambitions of the United States,” which has made Russia its “main enemy” while violating Moscow’s strategic security interests and pushing its NATO allies to “carry out ceaseless military threats.”
Kang went on to say that Washington is “pushing the Ukraine crisis to the brink of a global nuclear war by handing over F-16 fighter jets to the puppet regime of [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky.”
At the same time, the North Korean defense chief expressed support for what he said is Moscow’s quest for justice and its attempts to “defend the sovereign rights of the state.”
Ukraine has been asking its Western backers to provide it with F-16 jets for months, arguing that they are necessary to counter Russian air power. As a result, in May, the UK and the Netherlands announced an ‘international coalition’ consisting of 11 countries to help procure F-16s for Kiev and train Ukrainian pilots
While the US has not yet pledged to send F-16s to Ukraine, it has authorized several NATO nations to do so, with the Netherlands and Denmark committing to the delivery. While the Netherlands has not yet decided how many aircraft it would provide to Kiev, Denmark said it would send a total of 19 jets. In addition to this, on Thursday, Norwegian TV 2 reported that Oslo also decided to supply Ukraine with F-16s.
However, earlier this week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov said Kiev will not receive the jets for at least another six months, citing the need to train more personnel.
Pyongyang’s warning of a potential nuclear confrontation echoes earlier comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who cautioned that Moscow would consider the acquisition of F-16s by Ukraine as “a nuclear threat from the West,” noting that this type of aircraft can carry atomic weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that should the West proceed with sending F-16s to Ukraine, the aircraft “will burn” just the same as the other military equipment provided to Kiev.
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