‘We do not support the transfer of the fighters to the Ukrainian air force at this time and have no desire to see them in our custody either,’ the Pentagon said
Press sec John Kirby said the Pentagon had assessed the warplanes would not materially improve Ukraine’s defense posture, as well as stating that getting the MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine would pose a logistical nightmare
While at first the administration was on board with supporting Poland in getting the jets to Ukraine, the Pentagon feared it would drag NATO into direct conflict. Biden sided with the Pentagon and killed the deal
Despite desperate pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the pressure of lawmakers in the United States, President Biden killed the Polish plan to transfer MiG-29 jets to Ukraine, fearing an escalation of tensions by Vladimir Putin.
The diplomatic blunder that started when a top European Union diplomat promising the jets to Ukraine ended when Poland proposed that the U.S. deliver the jets to Ukraine, but the United States said that was Poland’s responsibility.
Then, U.S. defense officials killed the project entirely, saying they would not support either transferring the jets themselves or backing up Poland in doing so.
‘We do not support the transfer of the fighters to the Ukrainian air force at this time and have no desire to see them in our custody either,‘ Press secretary John Kirby told reporters Wednesday, as he described the sentiment of a call between Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin and his Polish counterpart.
Pentagon officials had said the warplanes would not materially improve Ukraine’s defense posture, while raising the likelihood of direct conflict with NATO, of which both the U.S. and Poland are members.
Many critics have already pointed out that the U.S. has provided Ukraine with lethal aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
During the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sought the help of US lawmakers in facilitating the transfer of jets, including MiG-29s, to Ukraine. Ukrainian officials say the country has 37 to 70 MiG-29s.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Poland and the U.S. are playing with people’s lives. ‘Listen,‘ the Ukrainian leader pleaded, ‘We have a war! We do not have time for all these signals. This is not ping pong! This is about human lives! We ask once again: solve it faster.‘
‘Do not shift the responsibility. Send us planes,‘ Zelensky demanded.
Zelensky spent 45 minutes on the phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, where he begged her for more jets. But skeptics within the Biden administration pushed back on the idea, and Biden himself agreed, according to Politico.
“POTUS will do what the military advises here and the advice now is not to do this and instead send the Ukrainian government more things they can make good use of,” a senior administration official told Politico. “Ukraine has ‘many planes they already don’t fly much because of Russian air defense”‘ The official added that it’s ‘not clear what sending more planes achieves.’
Republican and Democratic leaders alike urged the Biden administration to send more aircraft in response to Zelensky’s requests.