Surprised at first, the United States finally turned down Poland’s offer on Tuesday March 8 to supply them with Mig-29 fighter jets to deliver them to Ukraine to help it deal with the Russian invasion.
“We don’t think Poland’s proposal is feasible”Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
“The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the United States Government’ from a United States and NATO base [Organisation du traité de l’Atlantique Nord] in Germany, to fly with Russia into disputed airspace over Ukraine raises serious concerns for NATO as a whole”, added Mr Kirby. He nevertheless indicated that Washington is continuing discussions with Warsaw on this issue.
During the day Poland claimed that “ready to move all its MiG-29 aircraft on the base without delay and free of charge [américaine] by Ramstein [en Allemagne] and to make them available to the United States Government.†
The Mig-29s, such as the Sukhoi-27 (anti-aircraft and ground support) and the Sukhoi-25 fighter-bombers, are the only ones that Ukrainian pilots could handle without prior training.
“At the same time, Poland is asking the United States to provide it with second-hand aircraft with the same operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately set the terms for the takeover” of these devices, the Polish Foreign Ministry explained. As a replacement for these Soviet Mig-29 aircraft, US media had said, Washington would have been ready to deliver F-16s to Poland.
Risk of collision and climbing
US diplomacy number three, Victoria Nuland, admitted her country was surprised by the announcement “surprise” of the Poles.
The United States is concerned about the risk of a clash between the Atlantic Alliance (NATO) and the Russian armed forces, which could degenerate if Vladimir Putin’s Russia regarded such military aid as NATO’s direct involvement in the war with Ukraine.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a visit to Moldova that the United States “active work” to such an agreement with Warsaw.
Poland has about 30 of these Soviet-designed aircraft, but media reports say only 23 are technically ready to be sent to Ramstein.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki insisted at a press conference in Oslo on Tuesday evening that neither Poland nor NATO are parties to this war.
No “real logic”
“Therefore, any decision to provide offensive weapons must be taken by NATO as a whole, on the basis of unanimity. Therefore, we are ready to give our entire fleet of fighter jets to Ramstein, but we are not willing to do anything alone because, as I said, we are not involved in this war.”he continued.
For the US government “The decision whether or not to transfer Polish aircraft to Ukraine ultimately rests with the Polish government”said John Kirby in his statement. “It’s just not clear to us whether or not there is real logic in it” to such an agreement, he added. “We will continue discussions with Poland and the other NATO allies on this issue and the logistical difficulties. †
Only a few Eastern European countries, former members of the Warsaw Pact, officially have Soviet Mig-29s in their fleet, whose anti-aircraft capabilities are those that best meet Ukrainian needs to fight Russian fighters. The Polish government has also invited the other NATO member states – which have Mig-29s – to follow suit.