Polish officials announced on March 8 they would deploy the country’s MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S. Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“After consultations between the President and the Government,” officials “are ready to deploy–immediately and free of charge–all their MIG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America,” according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
Poland then requested the United States provide it with its “used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities,” adding that Warsaw is “ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes.”
The Polish government also called on other NATO member nations that own MiG-29 planes, which were first manufactured in the 1970s by the Soviet Union, to transfer their planes to the United States. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era fighter jets.
A U.S. official said later Tuesday that the announcement “wasn’t pre-consulted with us.”
“I saw that announcement by the government of Poland as I was literally driving here today,” Victoria Nuland, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, told a congressional committee in Washington.
“I look forward, when this hearing is over, to getting back to my desk and seeing how we will respond to this proposal,” she added.
The decision follows statements made by U.S. and Polish officials about whether Warsaw would offer its fighter planes to Ukraine’s military.
Marcin Przydacz, a deputy foreign minister, told Radio Zet on March 7 that “we will not open our airports and Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine.” Another government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, said the move to provide planes was still being discussed within NATO.
On March 6, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said Poland was given the “green light” to 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?” Blinken told CBS News.
Since the war began on Feb. 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government has often asked NATO and the United States to send fighter planes and other weapons, while also calling for a no-fly zone. NATO’s chief and White House officials say they aren’t considering the request for a no-fly zone, as that would mean NATO or U.S. planes would shoot down Russian ones.
During a Zoom call on Saturday with U.S. members of Congress, Zelensky reiterated that Ukraine is seeking military planes, and he asked specifically for Russian-manufactured planes, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
As Ukraine has asked for warplanes, Russia’s Ministry of Defense issued a warning on Sunday that any nation that allows Ukraine to use their respective airfields to carry out attacks on Russian assets can be considered as having entered the conflict.
“The use of the airfield networks of these countries to base Ukrainian military aircraft and their subsequent use against the Russian armed forces may be regarded as the involvement of these states in an armed conflict,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russia’s Interfax news agency on March 6.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, he added, is aware of “Ukrainian combat planes which earlier flew to Romania and other neighboring countries,” without elaborating.
From The Epoch Times