Should the US Let Poland Send Fighter Jets to Ukraine?

Headline Roundup March 11th, 2022

After initially indicating support for a transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine, the U.S. now says the move is not tenable. Why?

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Poland's plan to send fighter jets to Ukraine to help against the Russian invasion "gets a green light" from the U.S., and suggested that the U.S. could "backfill the planes that they’re handing over to the Ukrainians" with U.S. warplanes. The deal seemed likely to go through by mid-week, as Poland announced a deal on Tuesday. But later on Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said "we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one," citing a lack of "substantive rationale." Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Russian-designed MiG jets and are unfamiliar with U.S. fighter jets, so in theory, NATO members such as Poland could sell or lend their MiGs to Ukraine, and the U.S. could send its F-15 or F-22 fighter jets to those countries to backfill their aerial arsenal.

Some voices, especially on the political right, were critical of the decision and argued that Biden and NATO may have given into fears of Russian backlash against the move. Other voices said sending the jets would have risked too much escalation between the U.S. and Russia, and argued that Ukraine and allies should focus more on antitank and antiaircraft weapons that have already proven successful in slowing Russian advances. 

From the Right
314
OPINION

On the menu today: This week, in the span of 24 hours, the Biden administration’s position flipped from supporting a transfer of Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to the Ukrainians to opposing and blocking the move. The only explanation from the Pentagon is that there isn’t a “substantive rationale for it,” which will surprise the Polish and the Ukrainians. There are a few potential explanations for the administration’s sudden reversal — but none of them are good.

Very little makes sense about the U.S. government’s seemingly last-minute decision to oppose the...

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From the Center
314
OPINION

As Russia rains relentless fire on Ukrainian cities, the country’s leaders have been pleading for more Western help. But the United States is rightly wary of a proposal to send the Ukrainians MiG-29 fighter jets — a move that would bring small benefits on the battlefield and entail large risks of a wider war.

The dilemma of how to help Ukraine without triggering a global conflict will only get more painful as Russian President Vladimir Putin keeps doubling down on his losing bet in Ukraine. The latest warning of Putin’s recklessness...

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From the Left
314
ANALYSIS

Ukraine wants warplanes. Its allies have plenty. But getting fighter jets to Ukraine is much more complicated than it might seem.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration rejected a proposal from Poland that would have made its old Russian-made MiG fighters available to a U.S. base in Germany for potential handover to Ukraine, because it would be a “high risk” step that could ratchet up tensions with Russia, the Defense Department said.

The difficulties are legal, logistical and political. Top leaders of NATO — the alliance of 30 countries that includes the U.S. and Germany — want to help...

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