Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared today that the supply of any fighter jets to Ukraine was a matter that had to be jointly decided by all NATO members. His remarks came after Washington had rejected Warsaw’s offer to fly all of its MiG-29 jets to an allied airbase in Germany and donate them to the US.
Yesterday, Poland suddenly offered to transfer all of its remaining MiG-29 fighter jets to the Ramstein NATO airbase in Germany, saying it was prepared to donate its fighters to the US. The move came after the US, Ukraine and Poland had debated how best to provide Kiev with working jets its pilots could readily use. Seemingly, Poland’s sudden decision to do so via the base in Germany came as a surprise to Washington.
The US subsequently appeared to reject the offer, dismissing it as “untenable”. The previous discussion had hinged on Warsaw’s receipt of a fresh batch of F-16 planes from Washington equipped with “comparable” combat capabilities as the MiGs that Warsaw would pass along. Several problems derailed the plan. For a start, the US had no F-16s ready to deliver, other than a batch already designated for delivery to Taiwan.
Poland was concerned about possible retaliation by Russia directed at Warsaw should it provide Ukraine with jets. Polish authorities were also concerned about losing a significant portion of their air power at a time when Russian forces might decide to escalate activities by entering Polish air space. By opting to donate the planes directly into Washington’s hands, Warsaw could assign responsibility directly to the US for passing them on to Ukraine, and thereby assuage all concerned, presumably drawing Moscow’s ire away from Poland.
“Such a serious decision as supplying planes must be unanimous and unequivocally made by the whole North Atlantic alliance”, Morawiecki said later in the day, after the Pentagon had refused the Polish offer. “We did not agree to supply planes by ourselves, because it must be the decision of the whole of NATO”, he made clear.
President Volodymyr Zelensky had repeatedly asked NATO to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine in order to prevent Russian planes from operating in the area, or for the western countries to donate fighter jets to his country.
Poland currently has 23 MiG-29 multi-role jets in working order, which Ukrainian pilots were presumed capable of using since the same airframe forms the backbone of Ukraine’s air force fleet. Bulgaria and Slovakia both also operate MiG-29 jets, and could presumably donate or sell off their fleets. Bulgaria still has 13 MiGs in working order, while Slovakia has 11.