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: