Deliveries of much-needed Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine have stalled in a back-and-forth between the US and Poland, with neither country wanting to take the first step in supplying the Polish fighter jets Vladimir Putin might consider an act of war.
Ukraine has pleaded with the US and the European Union for more fighter jets, the kind the Ukrainian military already knows how to operate. .
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to US lawmakers over the weekend, asking them to facilitate the transfer of jets, including MiG-29s, to Ukraine. Ukraine currently has between 37 and 70 MiG-29s.
Kiev is only interested in a handful of aircraft with which the Air Force is familiar, with the exception of American jets – the MiG-29, the Su-25 and the MiG-21. These aircraft are currently used by Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland and Slovakia.
Of these, the MiG-29 is best equipped to take on the Russian Air Force.
Poland currently has 28 MiG-29s.
Powerful but short-range twin-engined fighter jets, with an RD-33 engine, were originally designed during the Cold War in the 1970s to counter new American fighters such as the F-15 eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. They are designed for combat against enemy aircraft, but often use air-to-surface armament and precision munitions.
The MiG-29 can cost up to $8 million each and is complete with modern radar, infrared tracking, long-range missiles and a 30MM autocannon with a 100-round magazine. They can reach Mach-2 speeds, or up to 1,500 MPH.
The fighter jet is the most numerous fighter of the Ukrainian Air Force, although Ukraine’s best jet fighters are the about three dozen Su-27s.
During the Russian invasion of Crimea, the Russians captured 45 MiG 29s of the Ukrainian Air Force.
Even if Ukraine were to get their hands on more MiG 29s, a potentially even bigger problem is a lack of trained pilots. Ukraine has faced a dwindling flight crew, after 70 layoffs in the past two years citing low wages, cumbersome paperwork and insufficient training that would not prepare them for war with the Russians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the US and Poland of playing games with people’s lives. ‘Listen,’ pleaded the Ukrainian leader, ‘we have war! We don’t have time for all these signals. This is not ping pong! This is about human lives! We ask again: solve it faster.’
“Don’t shift the responsibility. Send us planes,’ Zelensky demanded.
The Pentagon has poured cold water over Poland’s offer to hand over all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to the US, apparently as part of a scheme to supply the warplanes to the Ukrainian armed forces, where they are desperately needed to fight the invading Russian forces. repel troops.
Poland said it was ready to “immediately and free of charge” deploy all its MiG-29 jets at Ramstein Air Base and make them “available to the government of the United States of America”
A Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum multirole jet fighter with the Polish Air Force
War in Ukraine: the latest
- US intelligence chiefs say they fear Putin is angry and frustrated and may resort to using small tactical nuclear weapons to force Ukraine into submission
- They said it remains unclear whether Putin has decided to take Ukraine at any cost, or whether there is still room for a ceasefire
- McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Pepsi became the last companies to withdraw from Russia
- Russia is blowing up plans to open humanitarian corridors again. Kiev calls the proposal a publicity stunt
- Ukrainian soldiers and fleeing residents describe fierce fighting on the northwestern outskirts of Kiev, including close-quarters combat
- 18 people, including two children, died in an air raid on the city of Sumy
- Russia ramps up shelling of Gostomel near Kiev, Kharkiv in the east, Sumy in the northeast, Chernihiv in the north and Mykolayiv in the southwest
- Tens of thousands still stuck without water or power in Mariupol’s southern port after two failed evacuation attempts
- Nearly all 150,000 Russian combat troops on the border with Ukraine have now entered the country
- International Atomic Energy Agency receives reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city of Kharkiv
- White House says no agreement with European allies on blanket ban on oil and gas imports
- World Bank approves additional $489 million package for Ukraine to be made available immediately
- Russia says it will allow Russian companies and individuals to repay debts to creditors in ‘enemy’ countries in rubles
- US-based Morgan Stanley says a Russian debt default will happen as early as next month
- Russian President Vladimir Putin says again he will not send conscripts or reservists to fight
- Kiev presidential adviser says talks with Russia yielded some ‘positive results’, while Moscow’s chief negotiator said targets were ‘not achieved’
- Turkey announces that it will receive the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine for talks on Thursday.
- Foreign footballers and coaches working in Russia and Ukraine may temporarily suspend their contracts and move elsewhere, FIFA announces
- UN says 2 million people have fled Ukraine, making it fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II
Poland is said to have shocked the US on Tuesday with a surprise offer to transfer the plane to Rammstein Air Base in Germany, where the US could then deliver them to Ukraine. They asked the US to replenish its own air defense stock with US-made F-16 jets.
But the US, according to Sec. of state Antony Blinken, had looked into a deal whereby Poland would offer the jets to the Ukrainian fighters itself, after which the US could replenish Poland’s stock.
“We are now actively looking at the planes that Poland could supply to Ukraine and how we could supplement them if Poland decides to supply those planes,” Blinken told reporters in Moldova on Sunday.
Following Poland’s surprising proposal, Pentagon Press Sec. John Kirby threw cold water on the idea. He said the Pentagon did not consider it “tenable” to transport the planes to a US air base in Germany and then back to Ukraine. He added that it was “ultimately up to the Polish government” to offer Polish-owned aircraft to Ukraine.
“It’s just not clear to us whether there is a substantive basis for it,” says Kirby. “We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies on this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it poses, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is tenable.”
Kirby said the Polish proposal was too risky as the US and NATO, of which Poland is a member, are trying to avoid coming into direct conflict with the Russians. But supporters of the plane donation claim that the US has already provided hundreds of millions of deadly aid to the Ukrainians.
The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the government of the United States of America’ departing from a US/NATO base in Germany to enter disputed airspace with Russia over Ukraine is a major concern for the entire NATO alliance .’ said Kirby.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted Poland’s offer was unfeasible due to “serious logistical bottlenecks.”
‘It is a serious logistical bottleneck. There are clear concerns about flying planes from US airbases,” she said.
When asked why the US couldn’t load them on trains and deliver them by ground, she said, “Transporting them across the street isn’t as easy as you think it is.”
“Airplanes, if they have to be taken apart and put back together, you have to have people who can put those airplanes back together. You have to make sure that they can be moved safely through a disputed country or not, you know, a country where war is going on.’
“There are a number of logistical, operational challenges,” adds Psaki. She said talks were underway between military leaders about delivering the planes.
What’s more, Biden has promised not to ground US boots in Ukraine so US pilots couldn’t fly the jets to the war zone for delivery.
Sources told CNN that Poland made the sudden announcement after officials there were concerned about how the US was seemingly imbued this weekend with an idea it hadn’t signed up to.
“Poland will not send its fighter jets to Ukraine, nor will it allow them to use its airports. We are helping significantly in many other areas,” the Prime Minister’s Polish Chancellery wrote in a tweet on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Warsaw, Poland on Wednesday to discuss how best to support Ukraine’s efforts to stop the Russian invasion. She will also make a stop in Romania.
The US is now sending two Patriot missile batteries to Poland as “defensive deployments,” a spokesman for the US European Command (EUCOM) said Tuesday evening.
Patriots are air defense missile systems designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles.
Ukrainian artillery targeting Russian military trucks in Kozarovychi in the Kiev Oblast
Pictured: Destroyed Russian tanks in Ukraine’s Sumy region on Monday, March 7
A Ukrainian tank rolls along a main road in Kiev on Tuesday. Russia’s main invasion column remains stalled outside the capital