In response to The Botched Handling of Poland’s MiG-29s
It gets worse. The AP reports:
The Pentagon on Wednesday slammed the door on any plans to provide MiG fighter jets to Ukraine, even through a second country, calling it a “high-risk” venture that would not significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Polish counterpart on Wednesday and told him the U.S. assessment. He said the U.S. is pursuing other options that would provide more critical military needs to Ukraine such as air defense and anti-armor weapons systems.
Poland had said it was prepared to hand over MiG-29 planes to NATO that could then be delivered to Ukraine, but Kirby said U.S. intelligence concluded that it could be considered escalatory and trigger a “significant” Russian reaction.
Kirby’s remarks went beyond his comments in a statement Tuesday, rejecting Poland’s offer to give fighter jets to the United States for transfer to Ukraine.
Defense department spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday (emphasis added):
The intelligence community has assessed that the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory and could result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO. Therefore, we also assess that the transfer of MiG 29s to Ukraine to be high risk.
By conceding now that transferring any fighter jets to Ukraine from a NATO country “may be mistaken as escalatory,” the Biden administration has almost certainly ensured that neither the United States nor any NATO ally would transfer the jets as long as the war persists — even if circumstances change and the Ukrainian need for the jets becomes greater.
The latest concession from the Defense Department comes just three days after Secretary of State Blinken gave the “green light” to Poland to transfer the jets to Ukraine:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that NATO members have the go-ahead to send fighter jets to Ukraine as the U.S. and allies continue their efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
“That gets a green-light,” Blinken said in an interview with “Face the Nation” when asked whether the Polish government, a member of NATO, could send fighter planes to Ukraine. “In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians. What can we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they are handing over to the Ukrainians?”
PHOTOS: MiG-29 Fighter
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