March 9, 2022
By Phil Stewart, Humeyra Pamuk and Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States rejected a surprise offer from Poland’s NATO allies on Tuesday to transport its Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets to a US military base in Germany to renew Ukraine’s air defenses against Russian invaders. .
The United States has tried to speed up arms shipments to Ukraine. But the possibility of flying fighter jets from NATO territory into the war zone “raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance,” the Pentagon said.
NATO has said it does not want a direct confrontation with Russia, a nuclear ally, and President Joe Biden has ruled out sending US troops into Ukraine to fight, something the Pentagon has said applies to ground or air forces. , flying missions.
“We simply do not understand the rationale for that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said of Poland’s proposal.
“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies on this issue and the difficult organizational challenges it poses, but we do not believe that Poland’s proposal is sustainable.
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday that it was ready to send its MiG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the United States. It encouraged other members of the Alliance who owned other such aircraft to do the same.
The US State Department’s Ambassador No. 3 said the Polish proposal came as a surprise to the United States.
“To my knowledge, we were not consulted in advance that they were going to give us these planes,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s secretary of state, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“So I think it was really an unexpected move by the Poles,” she said.
The move raises questions about the feasibility of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asking European countries to supply Russian aircraft, an issue he highlighted in a video interview with US lawmakers on Saturday.
US lawmakers are willing to speed up military aid to Ukraine and pressure the Biden administration to facilitate the transfer of aircraft.
But Poland’s announcement could also reflect its own vulnerability.
Poland supports Ukraine with defensive weapons, but has said it would not send jets as it is not a direct party to the conflict between Ukraine – which is not a NATO ally – and Russia.
Russia’s Defense Ministry warned this week that countries offering airports to Ukraine for attacks on Russia could be considered part of the conflict.
Nuland said the main thing was to assess Poland’s urgent needs in light of the conflict.
“Poland – they benefit from full NATO air defense. “The main thing is to assess what Poland’s urgent needs are in the context of being a neighbor of these conflicts,” she said.
In particular, the US military announced that it would transport two Patriot missile batteries to Poland to “counter any potential threat to US and allied forces and NATO territory.”
(Reports by Patricia Zengerle, Humeyra Pamuk, Mike Stone and Phil Stewart; Additional Reports by Idrees Ali; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)
The United States rejects Poland’s offer to give Russian fighter jets to Ukraine
Source link The United States rejects Poland’s offer to give Russian fighter jets to Ukraine