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9 Mar, 2022 16:22

Poland points finger at US, NATO over fighter jets delivery to Ukraine

Warsaw says it cannot send Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Kiev on its own
Poland points finger at US, NATO over fighter jets delivery to Ukraine

“Poland is not a party to this war. We want peace as soon as possible. And NATO is also not a party to this war,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters, reiterating his call for the US-led NATO alliance to decide on the potential delivery of Warsaw-owned aircraft to Ukraine. The remarks took place in Vienna, as he was meeting Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Wednesday.

The delivery must be approved by the whole bloc, and Washington in particular, Morawiecki insisted.

“Such a serious decision as the handover of planes must be a unanimous and unambiguous decision made by the entire NATO. Today, this decision is in the hands of NATO, in the hands of the Americans,” the PM stated.

Kiev has repeatedly urged Western nations to send in additional weapons, including combat planes, amid the ongoing conflict with Russia that broke out in late February, when Moscow launched a large-scale offensive in Ukraine. While Kiev has claimed that up to 70 old Soviet-made planes owned by Eastern European NATO countries would be supplied shortly, no actual deliveries have materialized yet.

The potential suppliers and Washington have been actively shifting responsibility for such a decision over the danger of a direct confrontation with Russia. The US led-alliance has also consistently rejected the idea to send in troops, refusing Kiev’s repeated calls for NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country.

On Tuesday, Warsaw said it was ready to hand over its MiG-29 fleet “immediately and free of charge” to a NATO base in Germany for a subsequent transfer to Ukraine. In return, Poland urged the US to supply western-made “used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities.”

The idea, however, was met with skepticism in Washington, with top US officials warning the move would risk dragging NATO directly into the ongoing conflict.

“The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a US/NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance,” Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby has said.

At the same time, the official suggested Warsaw was free to deliver its jets to Ukraine on its own, stating the decision was “ultimately one for the Polish government.” Earlier, a similar stance was voiced by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said that the NATO nations willing to supply Ukraine with aircraft and other weaponry had “a green light” for that.