Biden Blinks Over MiG Transfer Plan

Last night Poland’s foreign ministry announced that it was ready to deploy its MiG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the United States. It urged other members of the alliance that had other such aircraft to do the same. This came in response to repeated pleas from Ukraine.

The United States rejected the surprise offer by NATO ally Poland to transfer its Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets to a U.S. base in Germany as a way to replenish Ukraine. The Pentagon claiming flying combat aircraft from NATO territory into the war zone “raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance”. This after US Secretary of State Blinken publicly encouraged Poland to transfer the aircraft to Ukraine on Sunday. What lies behind the U-turn?

Lack of courage is the answer. Poland which wants to help, and is helping, is clearly worried that upping the ante with aircraft might lead to retaliation from Russia. By deploying the aircraft via a US airbase it is seeking to ensure that the US shares responsibility and the risk. It also means that Russia will be wary of pre-emptively seeking to destroy the aircraft on the ground before they are transferred. Putin might gamble on launching a cruise missile attack on a Polish airbase, he will be more wary of attacking a US airforce airbase.

A shrewd move by Poland, Russia has already made it clear that any country allowing Ukrainian-operated planes to use their soil to attack the Russian military could be considered a participant in the conflict, a very disappointing response from President Biden. America needs to match its rhetoric to action…

See below for Blinken’s “green light” on Sunday to Poland on CBS Face the Nation:

MARGARET BRENNAN: NATO has said none of its 30 members are willing to set up a no fly zone. President Biden has been very clear. He has no interest in that or combat troops. But what more can the United States do here? If, for instance, the Polish government, a NATO member wants to send fighter jets, does that get a green light from the U.S.? Or you were afraid that that will escalate tension?

SEC. BLINKEN: No, that- that gets a green light. In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to back fill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to to the Ukrainians. What could we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they’re handing over to- to the Ukrainians? We’re in very active discussions with them about that. Look, I’ve been in Europe for the last couple of days working closely as always with our allies and partners at NATO, the European Union, the G7 countries, and all of us together are continuing to take steps to increase the pressure on Russia through additional sanctions, all of which are very actively under discussion and will be implemented in the in the coming days, as well as taking further steps to give the Ukrainians what they need to defend themselves against the Russian aggression.

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Antony Blinken
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