angels on our shoulders
Poland announced on Tuesday a plan to deliver its entire fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States military, which could then pass them along to Ukraine, Forbes reports.
According to a statement from Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 27 jets could be transferred to the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, "immediately and free of charge." The ministry also urged all NATO member states that have their own MiG-29s to do the same.
"At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes," the ministry's statement continues.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday Poland has the "green light" to give its MiG-29s to Ukraine and that the U.S. would replace them.
Reuters reported last week that U.S. officials estimate Russia is using just over 75 combat aircraft in its campaign against Ukraine. Multiple military experts told Reuters Russia had not destroyed Ukraine's air defenses and "vastly outmatched" air force as quickly as they'd expected and expressed surprise that Ukrainian airspace was still "actively contested every day."
Update 7:15 p.m. ET: A series of tweets from Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby Tuesday evening indicated the United States would not proceed with the Polish plan as outlined earlier in the day. "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 over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance," Kirby wrote, adding, "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." This story has been updated throughout.