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COPENHAGEN: Russia on Monday condemned a decision by Denmark and the Netherlands to donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, saying the move would escalate the conflict.

Denmark and the Netherlands on Sunday announced they would supply F-16s to Ukraine, with the first six due to be delivered around New Year.

“The fact that Denmark has now decided to donate 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine leads to an escalation of the conflict,” Russian ambassador Vladimir Barbin said in a statement cited by the Ritzau news agency.

“By hiding behind a premise that Ukraine itself must determine the conditions for peace, Denmark seeks with its actions and words to leave Ukraine with no other choice but to continue the military confrontation with Russia,” he said.

Danish Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said Ukraine may only use the donated F-16s within its own territory. “We donate weapons under the condition that they are used to drive the enemy out of the territory of Ukraine. And no further than that,” Ellemann-Jensen said on Monday.

US approves sending F-16s to Ukraine from Denmark and Netherlands

“Those are the conditions, whether it’s tanks, fighter planes or something else,” he said. Denmark will deliver 19 jets in total.

The Netherlands has 42 F-16s available in all but has yet to decide whether all of them will be donated.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday the planes would strengthen Ukraine’s air defences and help its counter-offensive against Russian forces.

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