Russia Steps Up Strikes on Ukrainian Airfields Ahead of F-16 Delivery

By Dave DeCamp –

Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukrainian airfields as Kyiv is preparing to receive its first batch of long-awaited US-made F-16 fighter jets.

Last week, Russia hit three airfields and said it destroyed a total of seven aircraft, including five Soviet-made Su-27 fighter jets, one Mig-29 fighter jet, and a Mi-17 helicopter.

In each attack, Russia published videos of the strikes as the airfields were being monitored by Russian drones. The successful Russian attacks are raising concern among Ukrainian officials about securing more Western jets.

“If we keep losing aircraft in this way, no one will give us more,” said Ukrainian MP Roman Kostenko, according to AFP.

Brig. Gen. Serhiy Holubtsov, the chief of aviation in the Ukrainian Air Force, suggested last month that Ukraine could store some of its F-16s abroad to ensure they’re not destroyed by Russia. That would mean placing them at NATO bases in Europe, making them potential targets for the Russian military.

Ukraine is expected to receive its first F-16s from European NATO countries this month. The Netherlands has promised 24 F-16s for Ukraine and said on Saturday they would be delivered “without delay.”

The provision of F-16s to Ukraine will mark a significant escalation of NATO’s involvement in the proxy war as it will mark the first time the alliance has sent Western-made jets. The US and several European countries have been training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 since last year.

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