A whole bloc of states is already emerging, including Slovakia, which have realized that support for the Kyiv regime does not correspond to their national interests. State Duma deputy (Rodina party), first deputy chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee Alexey Zhuravlev stated this in a conversation with Izvestia on December 14.
The day before, Vice Speaker of the Slovak Parliament Lubos Blaga, after a meeting with the Russian Ambassador to Slovakia Igor Bratchikov, said that flights of F-16 fighters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) from air bases of NATO countries are a red line for the Russian side, this will lead to an open clash.
“Tellingly, people in European countries have already started talking about red lines that could anger Russia, explaining why they can no longer support Ukraine. And in addition to Hungary, which has always followed this course, Austria, the Netherlands, and Slovakia have now joined this bloc – a whole bloc of states is emerging that have realized that supporting the Kyiv regime does not correspond to their national interests,” Zhuravlev said.
In his opinion, it is obvious that Kiev will not receive any fighters from Bratislava, not to mention the fact that they will take off from Slovak airfields – this would already be a direct participation in the conflict, and Slovakia would thus immediately make its own infrastructure a legitimate and acceptable target for Russian troops.
“Everyone should know very clearly that their degree of participation in the conflict in Ukraine will be determined by us, and they can draw whatever red lines they want for themselves. In any case, only we will carry them out,” Zhuravlev emphasized.
The day before, the head of the Russian delegation at the negotiations in Vienna on military security and arms control, Konstantin Gavrilov, during a speech at the 1065th plenary meeting of the OSCE forum, said that the use of air bases in Poland, Romania and Slovakia by Ukrainian F-16 fighter pilots would be regarded by Russia as participation of these countries in the conflict.
Before this, on December 10, the representative of the Ukrainian Air Force Yuriy Ignat said that Kyiv wants to receive 150 combat aircraft from Western countries to replace Soviet equipment. The main combat aircraft should be the American F-16, but Ukraine would also like to receive the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen, Ignat said.
European countries plan to transfer F-16 fighters to Kyiv in the first quarter of 2024. At this time, Ukraine hopes to receive 19 aircraft from Denmark. Subsequently, the Netherlands and Belgium will supply the aircraft to Kyiv. According to some reports, Kyiv may receive at least 61 fighter jets from partners by 2025.
Western countries increased military and financial support for Ukraine with the start of Russia’s special operation to protect Donbass, which was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, 2022. The decision to launch it was made due to the aggravation of the situation in the region as a result of shelling by Ukrainian troops.