The Polish government announced on Tuesday the delivery of its fleet of MiG-29 fighters to the United States for shipment to Ukraine. The European country will receive US F-16 fighter jets in return.
The MiG-29s will be taken to the Rammstein air base, located in Germany, where Washington will have the planes.
“The authorities of the Republic of Poland, following consultations between the President and the Government, are ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MIG-29 aircraft at the Ramstein Air Base and to make them available to the Government of the United States of America“, points out the statement issued by the Polish government.
Likewise, Poland asked Washington to provide it with “used aircraft with the corresponding operational capabilities”: “Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions for the purchase of the aircraft.”
“The Polish government also asks other NATO allies, owners of MIG-29 aircraft, to act in the same direction,” the statement concludes.
The decision of this delivery by Poland is made at the expense of NATO, which already ruled out a week ago sending any type of combat aircraft to Ukraine to prevent the Alliance from being part of the conflict, as expressed by its Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.
On February 27, the countries of the European Union (EU) announced that they would provide Ukraine with combat aircraft to resist the Russian offensive. “We are even going to send fighter planes. We’re not just talking about ammunition. We are providing major weaponry for a war”, said at that time the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell.
Those planes are MiG-29 and the Sukhoi SU-25 that countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria, and that ironically they were manufactured by the Soviet Union.
Last Sunday, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, assured that his country was looking for ways to help Poland deliver military aircraft to Ukraine to strengthen its ability to resist the Russian invasion.
The sending of warplanes was one of the requests made over the weekend by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyin a virtual meeting with 280 members of the United States Congress.
Specific, Zelensky wants Washington to facilitate the transfer to Ukraine from Poland and Romania of former Soviet aircraft and then NATO gives those two countries more modern aircraft.
Blinken’s comments came a day after he met with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on the border between Poland and Ukraine, and he pressured him to get the planes. “The biggest demand we have is for fighters, attack aircraft and air defense systems,” Kuleba said.
“If we lose the skies, there will be much more blood on the ground”he warned after the meeting, with Blinken at his side.
Although a significant part of the Ukrainian air force remains intact since the war began on February 24, both Ukraine and Russia have suffered heavy losses and neither controls the airspace over the country. However, Russia has a huge air force that, if fully mobilized, could decimate Ukraine.
The United States had resisted a deal, along with some key NATO members, concerned that Russia would interpret it as NATO – Poland is a member – actively joining the Ukraine war.and trigger a much broader conflict.
But supporters of equipping Ukraine with more planes from a NATO country argue that the alliance, and especially the United States, have already been supplying Kiev’s army with tons of deadly weapons and ammunition every day since the war began.
Another problem, however, is that the United States does not have any F-16s coming off the production line to easily supply Poland, which also faces a potential threat from Russia and needs planes to defend itself.
Any agreement would require the approval of the White House and the support of the US Congress, and probably that of NATO as well.
With information from EFE
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine LIVE: The Pentagon estimates that between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers have died in the offensive
Joe Biden announced the ban on all imports of Russian oil and gas due to the invasion of Ukraine
11 hours to flee from Putin’s bombs: Sumy evacuation began after Russian bombardment that left 21 civilians dead