Poland offers to supply Ukraine with jets — only to be shot down by US

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Poland offers to supply Ukraine with jets -- only to be shot down by US

Poland said Tuesday it was ready to deploy 28 MIG-29 jets to a Germany base so the US could transport them to Ukraine — but the United States threw cold water on the plan.

The Polish proposal, which involved Soviet-era jets owned by NATO allies, “raises serious concerns” and is not “tenable,” US defense officials said.

Poland had said it would provide the aircraft on the condition that Washington would reimburse it with F-16s.

“The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a US/NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby wrote in a response to Poland’s surprise announcement.

The proposed deal to bolster Ukraine’s air force in the face of Russia’s unprovoked blitz was bogged down with “logistical” concerns, White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki said.

A day before, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS’s “Face The Nation” that the plan was given a “green light” after a desperate plea from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken supported Poland’s offering.
RAIGO PAJULA / ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER OFFICE / HANDOUT
Two Polish Air Force Russian made Mig 29's
Poland was ready to deploy 28 MIG-29 jets, until the US declined.
AP Photo/ Alik Keplicz
Mikoyan Mig-29 23rd Tactical Squadron
The Mikoyan MIG-29 23rd Tactical Squadron.
Pacific Coast News / Andy Rouse

The US has rejected Zelensky’s calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it could result in “a potential direct war with Russia.” At the same time, Russia has said efforts to beef up Ukraine’s thin air force by the US would be seen as direct participation in the conflict, which Washington wants to avoid.

“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” Kirby said of helping with the plan transfer, which he said was “ultimately” a decision for the Polish government. 

“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.”

The US has said it would not send troops to Ukraine, instead deploying thousands of ground forces to neighboring NATO countries such as Poland and Romania.

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