White House explains why planes won’t be sent to Ukraine
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has acknowledged to reporters that the reason the US opted not to transfer 28 Polish fighter jets to Ukraine was to avoid directly involving the US (or presumably another NATO ally) in the war between Ukraine and Russia.
“I would say what our assessment is based on is how to prevent a world war here,” Psaki said in response to a reporter’s question regarding the planes. She called the issue of setting off World War 3 one “which is a significant weight that the intelligence community, Defense Department and the President weighs at every moment in time.”
“There’s an escalation ladder,” the White House front woman continued, pointing out the difference between anti-tank weapons and aircraft that could potentially “cross borders” and escalate the war. “We are not going to do things that we think are not in the interests of the United States and our NATO allies,” Psaki concluded.
Many had demanded to know what happened to the planes the US and/or NATO were “supposed” to hand over to Poland to be turned over to the Ukrainians. However, it was realized that any Polish (or other NATO nation) convoy bringing war materials into Ukraine would instantly become a military target to Russia, potentially creating the circumstances for NATO to declare war under Article 5 and essentially trigger WWIII.
Psaki had previously blamed the US’ failure to deliver 28 Polish fighter jets to Ukraine on a “temporary breakdown in communication,” after Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed Poland had a “green light” to move forward with transferring the planes.
The White House press secretary insisted the US had a “strong and abiding relationship with Poland,” and that the “mechanism” of the handover was the real issue. Poland had offered to transfer the MiG-29 jets to the US’ Ramstein base in Germany, but the US appeared uncertain how to go forward without directly implicating itself (and thus NATO) in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said as much on Tuesday, declaring the decision to transfer Polish planes to Ukraine was one for the Polish government to make, but that the Ramstein plan did not appear to be “a tenable one.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously expressed increasing impatience, demanding jets and a no-fly zone. “Do not shift the responsibility,” he said in an address on Wednesday. “Send us planes.”