Poland really wants to help the Ukraine. They’re giving their MIG-29 jets at their Rammstein Air Base to the US at no charge. In return, they’ve asked the US to provide them with used jets with the same capabilities. The Poles want other NATO allies to do the same thing. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hoping the Biden administration will do this. They can use all the help they can get.
Poland is ready to help
The Polish foreign ministry put out a statement. They are “ready to deploy — immediately and free of charge — all their MIG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base (in Germany) and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America.”
Poland has suggested NATO follow along. The country asked that the US would provide “used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes.”
Poland blindsided the US
The State Department was surprised by the announcement. They were working furiously trying to find arms to help the Ukraine.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland spoke at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She said, “I think that actually was a surprise move by the Poles.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “we are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes.”
Logistics haven’t been worked out
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said plans are being worked on, that “there were some logistical questions — important ones — that were still under discussion about where those planes would take off from and land.”
But John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, wasn’t sure about it. He emailed a statement that the US is “now in contact with the Polish government following the statement issued today. It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.”
Possible change of heart
Originally, Poland wasn’t willing to do this. The Eastern European security chief Josep Borrell said countries in his area that were still using Russian jets were willing to transfer them to the Ukraine.
Bolgaria and Slovakia are not willing to do this. The Polish President Andrzej Duda had said they were “not going to send any jets to the Ukrainian airspace” because “that would open a military interference in the Ukrainian conflict.”
A different way
Dave Deptula is a retired Air Force General and Dean of the non profit Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Power. He was at the Pentagon and wondered about this too. “I’m surprised that Poland would give the United States the planes instead of having Ukrainian pilots come over the border and fly them in. It’s not the best way to do business.”
Among the problems being considered are which jets would be easiest to transfer based on equipment, maintenance and training. US Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) had tweeted out asking that Biden might “consider transferring additional military systems to Ukraine such as A-10 aircraft to counter Putin’s armored assault.”