On Monday, the Pentagon downplayed the chances of Poland sending Ukraine Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said such a plan would get a “green light” from the US.
Blinken said that the US was in discussions with Poland to replenish Warsaw’s fleet with US-made jets if it transfers the MiG-29s to Ukraine. But as recently as Sunday, Polish officials have characterized the idea of Poland sending warplanes to Ukraine as “fake news.”
When asked about the comments from Polish officials, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, “no decisions have been made,” and that the decision was ultimately up to Poland.
“This will be a sovereign decision for a nation-state to make. Whether it’s Poland or anybody else, that should they want to provide aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force, that’s a sovereign decision that they can make,” he said. Kirby stressed that discussions with Poland about the plan are in “very early” stages.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also made it clear that the plan was in an early stage. “There are a number of challenging practical questions, including how the planes would actually be transferred from Poland to Ukraine,” she told reporters.
If Poland does decide to send the warplanes to Ukraine, the move risks provoking Russia. Whether Polish pilots fly the planes into Ukraine, or Ukrainian pilots pick them up from Poland, Russia might view the move as NATO directly entering the war.