The US refused to move forward with a plan to help send Poland’s jet fighters (middle) to Ukraine despite urging from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) (Pictures: AP/AFP/Getty Images)
The US has decided not to support a plan to help send Polish jet fighters to Ukraine, despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s pleas.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Pentagon announced that it assessed transferring Poland’s MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine to be ‘high risk’. In addition, the Pentagon noted that Ukraine has several squadrons of aircraft that are fully mission-capable and that the gain would be low.
The US’s decision comes after Zelensky accused the US of playing a ‘ping pong’ game with his people’s lives after the Biden administration refused to seal the deal that Poland was prepared to move forward with. Zelensky’s fiery speech came as Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Poland – but according to the White House was not expected to discuss the fighter jets.
Zelensky on Wednesday noted that the Polish government made an official decision to transfer MiG-29 combat planes to an American base in Germany and that he heard that an agreement had been reached. However, the Pentagon on Tuesday night rejected the deal, saying it was unworkable.
‘Listen, we have a war! We do not have time for all these signals. This is not ping pong! This is about human lives!’ Zelensky said. ‘We ask once again: solve it faster.’
The Ukrainian president demanded: ‘Do not shift the responsibility. Send us planes.’
For more than a week, US and Polish officials have discussed how to deliver the Soviet-era planes for Ukrainian pilots to use in fighting Russia. The plan has been hindered amid fears it could escalate Russian aggression to beyond Ukraine.
The Russian ministry of defense on Sunday warned Nato countries against allowing Ukrainian planes to use their bases as a safe haven. It stated that ‘subsequent use against the Russian armed forces can be regarded as the involvement of these states in an armed conflict’.
Prior to declining Poland’s jets deal, the US’s Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland called it ‘a surprise move by the Poles’.
Vice President Kamala Harris (left) arrives to board Air Force Two at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for a three-day trip to Poland and Romania for meetings about the war in Ukraine (Picture: Getty Images)
Harris departed Washington, DC, for Warsaw on Wednesday morning for a three-day trip that will include visiting Romania, where US troops are ready to defend the Nato ally country. Harris’ visit is intended to demonstrate how the US can support countries neighboring Ukraine, according to the White House.
Asked if Harris would be speaking with Polish officials about the military jets, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: ‘I would expect it’s going to happen through military channels. Those conversations have been ongoing and I would expect they would continue to happen through those channels.’
Pressed further on whether the jets were not a priority on Harris’ agenda, Psaki again did not confirm it would be a topic of discussion for the vice president.
‘I’m never going to say it’s not a priority,’ Psaki said on Wednesday afternoon. ‘But I would just say that the appropriate channels for it – because they are about the operational movement of military equipment – are through military channels.’
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