Following several delays and refusals, Poland on Tuesday finally agreed to transfer its fleet of 28 MiG-29 “Fulcrum” fighter aircraft to Ukraine. The country decided to deploy the fleet at Ramstein Air Base based in Germany that will be employed under the administration of the United States government.
However, within hours, a statement by Washington refused the offer by Poland: as the deployment of fighter aircraft to be fielded against Russia would raise “serious concerns” for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance.
The Polish offer came after several requests made by the European Union, NATO, USA, and Ukraine to the Eastern European countries to transfer fighter aircraft from their fleet to Kyiv. Though there are certain conditions placed that Poland to assure before sending it’s Soviet-era MiG-29 aircraft to the war-zone.
All the 28 jets will be flown to Ramstein Air Force, situated in Germany but operated under USAF jurisdiction under the headquarters of United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) command. These jets will be placed at the disposal of the United States that will provide pilots and facilities for employing the platform in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
“The authorities of the Republic of Poland, after consultations between the President and the Government, are 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.”
In return for this free-of-charge process, Warsaw demands fighter aircraft of equivalent capabilities from the inventory of USAF to compensate for these MiG-29 aircraft.
“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.”
Furthermore, the country is also seeking other NATO allies, especially the owners of the MiG-29 fighter aircraft to work in the same manner to assist Ukraine in its resistance against Russian aggression.
In the past, Poland had reiterated multiple times that their country is not ready to send fighter aircraft to Ukraine due to a lack of replacements in their own Air Force. Same stated by other nations in the vicinity of Eastern Europe like Slovakia and Bulgaria, which operate a handful of Fulcrums in their small inventory of combat aircraft.
However, the conditions placed in the latest statement by Poland confirms that such transfer of aircraft is only plausible if NATO or EU will provide solutions to compensate the loss that will occur to the Air Forces which will provide fighter jets from its own inventory.
However, in an interesting development, Pentagon in another statement in response to the Polish offer had refused to carry out such a process where MiG-29 would be deployed at a US-NATO base, calling it not “tenable”. This is due to several logistical and other issues that will cause unfavorable consequences for the western alliance, as the fighter aircraft will fly from an allied airbase to an actively contested airspace with Russia.
“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,” stated spokesperson John Kirby.
Observers believe that NATO is not ready to take any chances that can erupt a war with Russia. Last week, after a meeting of NATO countries’ foreign affairs ministers in Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, though had condemned Kremlin and Vladimir Putin’s action against Kyiv, also stated that this conflict as not their war and tactics are being employed to safeguard NATO partners in that region, including strengthening defences by deploying troops and assets in countries like Germany and Romania.
The situation is more complex than ever with the conflicting statements of US and Poland as both are unwilling to directly participate in this war. On the other hand, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is receiving major setbacks one after another since the beginning of this war- that is now in its third week with Russian forces already to entering the capital city Kyiv.