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Pentagon rejects Poland’s surprise offer of MiG-29 fighter jets for use by Ukraine

Pentagon says ‘rationale’ of such an offer is not clear to US

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 09 March 2022 05:54 GMT
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Related: Ukraine needs fighter jets and a no-fly zone, says diplomat

The Pentagon on Tuesday rejected Poland’s offer to give the US its MiG 29 fighter jets to be used by Ukraine in its fight against Russian troops.

“We will continue consulting with our Allies and partners about our ongoing security assistance to Ukraine, because, in fact, Poland’s proposal shows just some of the complexities this issue presents,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement,

“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.”

On Tuesday, the Polish government announced that it was ready to send all its MiG-29 fighter jets to a US military base in Germany, likely to be deployed to Ukraine in the fight against the Russian invasion. It had also urged other Nato countries to send their own fighter jets of a similar type.

The Pentagon said that while the decision to transfer Polish-owned planes is ultimately of the Polish government, it added that it “is simply not clear” that “there is a substantive rationale for it”.

“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 statement said.

The fighter jets were expected to bolster Ukraine’s resistance against the Russian invasion, which has been underway for two weeks now.

This infographic, created for The Independent by statistics agency Statista , shows the relative military strength of Ukraine and Russia (Statista/The Independent)

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky had earlier pleaded with Nato to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine and send more warplanes. But Nato refused to impose a no-fly zone claiming that it could lead to war in Europe.

After Poland’s offer on Tuesday, officials in the White House said that they were caught unaware.

Undersecretary of state Victoria Nuland told lawmakers at a hearing on the Ukraine crisis that she learned of Poland’s plans only while driving to the hearing.

“To my knowledge, it wasn’t pre-consulted with us,” Ms Nuland said.

On Sunday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said that any country that allows Ukrainian-operated airplanes to use their soil to attack the Russian military could be considered a participant in the conflict.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.

To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

(Additional reporting by agencies)

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