“Yankee Go Home”: Ahead Of F-16 Fighter Jet’s Arrival, Russian Military Steps Up Offensive In Ukraine

Ahead of the arrival of Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcons in Ukraine, Russia has raised the stakes by launching a propaganda campaign against the incoming US-origin fighters that are expected to add more teeth to Ukrainian combat capability.

A Russian online propaganda poster surfaced on social media on June 17. The poster (below) shows an F-16 combat aircraft going down in flames with the phrase: “Yankee Go Home” written at the bottom. The term Yankee is a slang often used for American people and things.

The propaganda poster was published by several military bloggers and war tracking handles on social media site X (previously Twitter) and was presented without comment. Though EurAsian Times could not track the source of the poster, it points to a dire warning: the F-16’s destruction by the Russian forces.

After almost two years of fighting, Ukraine is finally set to receive F-16 Fighting Falcons, a move that the Ukrainian Air Force believes could help establish air superiority over the embattled country. NATO countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium, have pledged their F-16s to Ukraine. The Danish F-16s are expected to land in Kyiv in the next few weeks.

Last month, an unknown Ukrainian military source told the media that Ukraine would receive its first F-16s sometime in June or July. Ukrainian fighter pilots are presently undergoing training on the aircraft, and while there has been some upset with the training, the writing on the wall is that the Fighting Falcons will soar over Ukraine soon.

However, as the arrival of F-16s inches closer, Russia has upped the ante with frequent warnings against the American-origin aircraft.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, for instance, has said that the F-16s would not drastically alter the battlefield situation, and the Russian forces would destroy the planes as they destroyed tanks, armored vehicles, and other equipment, including multiple rocket launchers.

Ukraine alleges that Russia is applying significant pressure on its defenses to exhaust Ukrainian forces before the gradual arrival of Western supplies, which also includes the F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Russia Steps Up Offensive Ahead Of F-16 Arrival

Ukrainian army chief Oleksandr Syrsky said Russia has been gradually advancing in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine and on parts of the front that Kyiv has found difficult to hold, which he attributed to a lack of personnel and weapons.

“The enemy is well aware that as a result of the gradual receipt of a significant amount of weapons and military equipment from our partners, and the arrival of the first F-16s, which will strengthen our air defense, time will play in our favor and its chances of success will decrease,” Ukrainian army chief Oleksandr Syrsky said in a Facebook post.

He added, “Therefore, the command of Russia’s troops is currently making every effort to increase the intensity and expand the geography of hostilities to maximize the depletion of our troops, disrupt the training of reserves, and prevent the transition to active offensive actions.”

Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16. Source: Netherlands Defense Ministry

However, the head of the Ukrainian Army also sounded a very optimistic note and stated that Russia’s chances of winning on the battlefield would decrease as international military aid, including the initial batch of F-16 fighter jets, gradually entered the country.

During the peace summit in Switzerland this past weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Kyiv’s partners to expedite the promised delivery of F-16 fighters and provide additional air defense systems. Zelensky had noted that Ukraine needed at least 130 F-16s to take on Russia. Dozens of these aircraft that have already been pledged to Ukraine are still awaiting delivery.

File:Danish F-16.JPG - Wikimedia Commons
Danish F-16 – Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, Zelensky called on Western countries to give Ukraine more air defense systems to strengthen its capabilities.

Russia has warned on several occasions that the F-16s would be obliterated even before they can take to the skies.

However, Ukraine has started making concerted efforts to maximize the survivability of its fighters. In a recent announcement, it said that at least some of its F-16s would be stationed in NATO states, away from the battlefield for security.

The Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson, Illya Yevlash, said on a national telethon on June 17 that the steps required to guarantee the F-16’s operation and deployment in Ukraine were being taken, notwithstanding Russian efforts to obstruct their transfer.

“The enemy will hunt the F-16 — there is no need to talk about the fact that Russia will not manage to ‘disrupt anything,’” he noted. “We witness the enemy’s attempts to attack our airfields; however, you can see that Ukrainian aviation continues to perform its tasks and is doing it quite successfully.”