From the Washington Post news section:
U.S. all but declines Poland’s offer to give Ukraine its old warplanes
The move ‘sideswiped’ U.S. and Western officials, who said they were not consulted before Poland’s announcement
By John Hudson and Dan Lamothe
Today at 7:06 p.m. EST
The United States all but declined an offer from Poland on Tuesday to deliver an unspecified number of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine so that the warplanes could be used against invading Russian forces.
“We do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
The unusual public offer, posted on the website of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, blindsided U.S. officials who said they were not consulted by the Polish government ahead of the proposal.
Poland has sought to equip Ukraine with aircraft to fight Russia even as Moscow has warned that any country hosting Ukraine’s military aircraft would be considered a party to the ongoing armed conflict there.
In its statement, Poland said it is “ready to deploy — immediately and free of charge — all their MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America.” Ramstein is an American military facility located in Germany.
Kirby raised the prospect that Poland’s proposal could inflame tensions with Russia, which has depicted the conflict in Ukraine as one against Western aggression. Fighter jets “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,” he said, adding, “It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it.”
As war loomed, U.S. armed Ukraine to hit Russian aircraft, tanks and prep for urban combat, declassified shipment list shows
The move by Poland appeared intended to shift the responsibility for delivering the aircraft — and risking a potential Russian military retaliation — to the United States.
It’s interesting that none of this seems to have been planned out ahead of time, even though militaries are supposed to have many contingency plans on file. It would be more reassuring to imagine that somebody must have a plan, even if, from your point of view, it’s a nefarious conspiracy. But it appears that most of the participants are just kind of winging it, which ought to be concerning.
I mean, Putin’s Plan A appears to have been: “We shoot some cruise missiles, our troops drive around on ‘thunder runs,’ the Ukrainians surrender, and I host a triumphant victory parade in Red Square.”
It occurred as the No. 3 official at the State Department, Victoria Nuland, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“To my knowledge, it wasn’t pre-consulted with us that they plan to give these planes to us,” Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, told lawmakers. She characterized it as a “surprise move by the Poles.”
“I look forward when this hearing is over to getting back to my desk and seeing how we will respond to this proposal of theirs,” she said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that while all NATO countries have a “green light” to send fighter planes to Ukraine, the United States seeks to avoid directly confronting Russia.
But we also have promised mutual defense of our NATO partners.
In summary, this kind of thing is all very complicated and I’d feel better about it if somebody in a position of authority would announce, “We carefully worked through all these eventualities in National Security Directive xxx in 2016. Trust us, we know what we are doing.”