The Mystery Of Those Polish Planes

About a week ago there was much buzz about Poland sending some of the Soviet era MiGs to Ukraine for their air defense against the forces of ‘Vlad the Invader’…..

Whatever happen to that idea?

The saga so far…..

Kamala Harris is in Warsaw Wednesday to thank Poland for receiving masses of Ukrainian refugees, reports the AP—and to mop up a late-developing diplomatic headache. The Polish government on Tuesday evening offered to hand over Soviet-era MiG-29 jets to the US, which would then give them to Ukraine. The Pentagon replied by calling the plan “not … tenable,” and it turns out Poland didn’t float the idea with the Biden administration before going public with it. The exchange was quickly branded as “a rare sign of disunity among NATO allies.” Context and analysis:

  • The Boston Globe explains that Vladimir Putin has made clear that if planes used by Ukrainians use a neighboring country’s base, it will view that country as being involved in the conflict. Should that country be a NATO member and should Russia retaliate with force, Article V of the NATO treaty would kick in. “It stipulates that an attack on one allied country is an attack on all of them.”
  • At the Guardian, Patrick Wintour writes the issue comes down to a subtle but crucial shift. The original idea the US put forth would have seen Poland supply Ukrainian pilots with its MiGs; the US would supply fighter jets to Poland to occupy the resulting gaps. With its Tuesday suggestion, Poland tweaked things so that it would have the appearance of a “US, NATO, or EU scheme but not a Polish one … [as] Poland felt the plan unduly exposed its citizens to Putin’s ire.”
  • As for why these planes, the AP provides some background: Soviet-made MiG-29 and Su jet fighters like those used by former Soviet-bloc NATO members Poland, Bulgaria, and Slovakia are what the Ukrainian air force uses; its pilots aren’t trained to fly US-made fighter jets. Polish pilots can fly those and sees the possibility of the US replacing whatever it directs toward Ukraine.
  • But that still leaves open the question of where the MiG-29s would be based (“it isn’t clear if Ukraine would be able to safely house and service them in the long run, given the warfare on its territory,” per the AP) and how to get them there. Polish pilots are NATO pilots, so flying them in would be a risky proposition. Poland’s Tuesday night offer would have seen the jets flown to the US air base in Ramstein, Germany.
  • Wintour’s take: “Russia retains air superiority. Ukrainian pilots who were being trained in Poland to fly the planes are now grounded with no machines with which to defend their country. An opportunity has been squandered.”
  • At the Telegraph, Nick Allen writes that Harris won’t just be tasked with smoothing things over, but also with working to find another method of getting planes into Ukrainian hands. He points out that Ukraine’s defense attache in Washington, Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetskyi, reiterated that his No. 1 priority is strengthening his nation’s air defense: “It can be ground-based air-defense systems. It can be fighter jets. Whatever possible.”
  • CNN reports that prior to Harris’ morning departure, “intensive conversations” took place within the administration about how to coordinate with Poland in a way that would end up with Ukraine getting jets

Why is this such a sticking point, you may ask…well I can offer a small amount of help….

The Pentagon said Wednesday that the US does not support sending Polish warplanes to Ukraine since the move is too “high risk” and would not significantly improve Ukraine’s ability to fight Russia.

“We assess that adding aircraft to the Ukrainian inventory is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian air force relative to Russian capabilities. Therefore, we believe that the gain from transferring those MiG-29s is low,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

“The intelligence community has assessed the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory, and could result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO. Therefore, we also assess the transfer of the MiG-29s to Ukraine to be high-risk,” he said.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Poland had the “green light” to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine despite the obvious risk of escalation with Russia. Poland responded by offering to send the aircraft to a US base in Germany, giving Washington the option to send the planes to Ukraine.



Join the club.  I have studied conflict for years and none of them make much sense because of treaties, agreements and BS….Ukraine is proving no different….just the most recent.

Turn The Page!

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”


2 thoughts on “The Mystery Of Those Polish Planes

  1. Off-topic about the MIGS, something more about Far-Right combat units in Ukraine.
    Since the Russian invasion, none of this history seems to be worthy of a mention on the news. Ukrainian troops wearing Nazi-style insignia doesn’t play too well for western audiences, I suspect. It might appear that Putin’s assertions about neo-nazis in Ukraine are far from fiction, and our news pundits would be uncomfortable with that.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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