The Pentagon rejected Poland’s offer of MiG-29s to Ukraine

Poland has sought to provide Ukraine with aircraft to fight Russia even after Moscow warned that any country hosting Ukrainian military aircraft would be considered a party to the armed conflict there.

Poland said in its statement that it was “ready to deploy all its MiG-29 jets – immediately and free of charge – to Ramstein Air Base and to place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America.” Ramstein is a US military facility located in Germany.

Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, raised possibility Poland’s proposal could stoke tensions with Russia, which has portrayed the conflict in Ukraine as a conflict against Western aggression. He said that combat aircraft “departing from the US/NATO base in Germany to fly into the disputed airspace with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO,” adding: “It is simply not clear to us that there is an objective justification for this.”

Poland’s move appears to be aimed at shifting responsibility for delivering the plane – and risking a possible Russian military response – to the United States. It happened when State Department Official Victoria Nuland testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“To my knowledge, we have not been consulted in advance about their intention to deliver these aircraft to us,” Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, told lawmakers. marked It was a “surprise move by the Poles”.

“I look forward when this hearing is over to go back to my office and see how we will respond to this proposal of theirs,” she said.

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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that while all NATO countries have a “green light” to send fighter jets to Ukraine, the United States is seeking to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia. I sent Washington Billions of dollars in military equipment to Ukraine in recent years.

A senior European official said Western officials were completely taken aback by Poland’s announcement. Another European official said he had been “swiped sideways”.

Poland’s declaration also asked the United States to “provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities” to compensate for the loss of aircraft it was offering to Ukraine.

The offer was to serve Poland by strengthening Ukraine’s resistance to Russia, a common geopolitical enemy, and strengthening its army. Poland, whose air force flies both the Russian-made MiG and the US-made F-16, in 2017 examined the possibility of replacing the MiGs with second-hand F-16s. At that time, they decided not to do this, considering such a transaction too expensive.

A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground bases set by the Pentagon, said Russia and Ukraine maintain the bulk of their air forces, despite the loss of aircraft on both sides.

This official said the airspace remained “hotly contested” with the two sides vying for control.

“Very little of the Ukrainian nation is not covered by some kind of Russian surface-to-air missile capability,” the defense official said.

Karen de Jong contributed to this report.

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