The Pentagon announced the deployment of two Patriot missile batteries to Poland after declaring the fighter jet transfer not “tenable” hours before Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in Warsaw.
Poland declared Tuesday it would be sending 28 MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S.-operated Ramstein Air Base in Germany to provide military aid for Ukraine. However, later that day, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby released a statement rejecting the move.
As both parties appear to be attempting workarounds for directly aiding Ukraine under threat of escalation by Russia, Kirby stated, “the decision about whether to transfer Polish-owned planes to Ukraine is ultimately one for the Polish government.”
🚨Pentagon nixes Polish plan to give MiG’s to Ukraine via Ramstein:
“departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance…simply not clear there is substantive rationale.” pic.twitter.com/DQv5MlUcvX
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) March 8, 2022
Assuring that there would be continued discussions on assisting Ukraine, Kirby honed in on the concern of the “prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia…raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”
Dismissing any “substantive rationale” for the plan, Kirby concluded it was the Pentagon’s position that they did “not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.”
In place of the fighter jet transfer, the Pentagon saw fit to send Poland two Patriot missile defense batteries equipped with radar capabilities.
Pentagon will deploy two Patriot missile defense batteries to Poland, U.S. military says in statement tonight. They include not only the missiles, but powerful radar designed to spot incoming fire.
As of Tuesday, Russia has launched 670~ missiles at Ukraine since invading.
— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) March 9, 2022
The plan to shuffle around jets in a multination transfer had been publicly debated for days with differing levels of affirmation between the United States and Poland throughout various government agencies.
On Saturday, United States Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) had issued a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to take action with support from Congress to fund a fighter jet transfer.
Proud to lead a letter with @SenatorShaheen to the President urging him to find a way to help our European allies support #ukraine with fighter jets. pic.twitter.com/bCwME1dlla
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) March 5, 2022
The White House had not confirmed a deal at the time, stating only that they were working with Poland “and consulting with the rest of our NATO allies.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken seemed to endorse the plan Sunday when he stated if NATO members wanted to supply fighter jets to Ukraine, the United States would give “a green light” to that plan. He further explained the plan “to backfill their needs” by supplying Poland with American jets should they offer theirs to the conflict.
The Poland Foreign Ministry announced their plans Tuesday, stating in part, “At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities,” the AP reported.
Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland expressed during a senate hearing that she had only just learned of Poland’s plan on her way in. “To my knowledge, it wasn’t pre-consulted with us.”
The failed negotiations appear to be more of a refusal to accept culpability than a breakdown in communication as Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, “This is why we are able to give all of our fleet of jet fighters to Ramstein. But we are not ready to make any moves on our own because…we are not a party to this war.”
Meanwhile, Congress continues to push funding for a possible transfer of jets as Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hopes to include loan guarantees for NATO air forces to supply MiGs to Ukraine.
This news comes as Harris is scheduled to begin a three-day visit to Europe to hold talks in Warsaw, Poland and Bucharest, Romania on NATO defense. After failure to deliver a message of deterrence in Munich at the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggested that Harris was going “back to Europe to see how much worse she can make the disaster.”
“That’s what’s going on: a crisis that gets more grave by the day,” Carlson said, “whose ramifications are clearly more serious than anyone expected, overseen by people who have no wisdom or foresight or restraint and fundamentally don’t have the interest of our country at heart when they make their decisions and Kamala Harris isn’t the only problem, but she’s the most glaring symbol of it.”
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