The Defense Department on Wednesday rejected a Polish proposal to supply Ukraine with fighter jets, stating aligned initiatives against the Russian invasion must be centered on more beneficial weaponry.
The Defense Department likewise claimed the MiG transfer, which would have a connection to the United States and NATO, would run a “significant risk” of ramping up the war.
By rejecting the idea involving the Polish aircraft, the Pentagon looked eager to move past what had become an unpleasant split with a NATO member.
This comes at a period where President Joe Biden repeatedly highlighted the need for a cohesive and unified response to Russia’s assault.
🚨Pentagon nixes Polish plan to give MiG’s to Ukraine via Ramstein:
“departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance…simply not clear there is substantive rationale.” pic.twitter.com/DQv5MlUcvX
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) March 8, 2022
More Details on the Pentagon’s Decision
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy reportedly begged for the United States to assist his military with additional aircraft, which he has offered as an obvious alternative to creating a “no-fly zone” above Ukraine in order to reduce Russian air power.
The notion of a “no-fly” zone has previously been rejected by both the United States and NATO as a risky situation of escalation.
The other week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was considering a plan under which Poland would provide Kyiv with Soviet-era aircraft.
Here, Ukrainian pilots are qualified to operate, in exchange for receiving American F-16s to make up for the loss.
Polish officials, meanwhile, were adamant about not participating, fearing they would be drawn too directly into a battle with Russia.
Poland subsequently said it was prepared to give up close to 30 of its MiG-29 fighter jets to NATO, but only if they were flown to the U.S. airforce base at Ramstein, Germany, then somehow transported to Ukraine.
That was the proposal rejected by the Pentagon.
Kirby Chips in
Kirby said the Biden administration is in discussions with other nations about “alternative possibilities” for helping Ukraine’s most immediate military requirements two weeks into the conflict.
This includes additional ground-based weaponry to oppose Russian tanks and planes in what has primarily been a ground battle. Kirby said they might feature surface-to-air missile batteries, as well as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby pours cold water on the transfer of Polish jets to America to give to Ukraine:
"We do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian air force at this time, and therefore have no desire to see them in our custody." pic.twitter.com/SSgUOBpwZh
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) March 9, 2022
“Secretary Austin praised the minister for Poland’s readiness to continue to search for ways to help Ukraine,” Kirby added.
“He emphasized we do not favor the delivery of further fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian air force at this moment and, as a result, do not want to see them in our control.”
The vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, arrived in Warsaw on Wednesday night for discussions; although the White House stated she wasn’t really directly engaged in the aircraft’s fate.
According to Kirby, Ukraine still possesses a large number of its own planes.
The United States feels additional aircraft from other countries “is not expected to dramatically enhance the efficacy of the Ukrainian air force, compared to Russian capabilities.”