Poland has made it clear that it will not send any fighter jets to Ukraine, underscoring considerable ambiguity over the scope of the European Union’s military assistance to Kyiv.
On CBS’s Face the Nation, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the US is engaging with the Poles and discussing the entire matter with the rest of NATO countries.
“We are also working on the capabilities we could provide to backfill Poland if it decided to transfer planes to Ukraine,” he added.
On March 6, Blinken told reporters during his visit to Moldova, “We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes.” “I can’t speak to a timeline but I can just say we’re looking at it very, very actively,” he added.
Previously, Bulgaria and Slovakia ruled out the transfer of military planes to Ukraine. Politico reported that the discussions are now focused on Warsaw and center around the US sending American-built jets to replace the MiG-29s.
The Polish government, in contrast to Blinken’s statement, appeared to take a divergent stand on the issue. In a tweet, the Chancellery of the Polish Prime Minister rejected rumors that the country is in talks with the US to backfill its fighter plane fleet if Warsaw decides to deliver its MiG-29s to Kyiv.
Unfortunately you are spreading misinformation with quotation from 27/02/22.
— Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (@PremierRP_en) March 6, 2022
On March 1, Polish President Andrzej Duda stated that his country will “not send any jets to Ukrainian airspace,” adding that “that would open a military interference in the Ukrainian conflict.” Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s Prime Minister, also ruled out such a possibility. “Poland doesn’t have such plans,” he said.
Meanwhile, Poland approved a draft bill to create a $1.75 billion fund to help war refugees from Ukraine. Over one million people have crossed into Poland and thousands have been hosted across the country, Reuters reported.
The legislation strives to permit the funding of food and temporary lodgings for refugees, along with measures allowing them to legally work and access public healthcare and social assistance in Poland.
NATO Wants To Avoid Risks
NATO has taken a defensive stance so far, claiming that it did not want to be involved in the Russia-Ukraine war. The military bloc also rebuffed Ukraine’s demand for a ‘no-fly zone,’ fearing an escalation, prompting a harsh response from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who labeled NATO as “weak”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it abundantly clear that any country attempting to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine will be deemed an armed conflict by his administration.
.@SecBlinken: The U.S. has given the “green light” to NATO countries if they choose to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, one day after President Zelensky made a plea to members of Congress to provide them during a Saturday Zoom call. https://t.co/liDkdNCAFI pic.twitter.com/3vHqk6YzQe
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) March 6, 2022
Russia’s Defense Ministry has also threatened countries, notably NATO member Romania, against hosting Kyiv’s military planes, claiming that they could end up being involved in an armed conflict.
In a video conference, defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed that several Ukrainian combat jets had been redeployed to Romania and other Ukraine’s neighbors.
He emphasized that if the jets attacked Russian forces from those countries, it “could be considered an engagement in the military conflict.” Konashenkov said: “We know for sure that Ukrainian combat aircraft have flown to Romania and other neighboring countries.”
The spokesperson further stated that Ukraine’s combat-ready aircraft had been destroyed in “practically all” instances. Romania’s Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă responded by saying, “It’s pure rhetoric designed to divert attention from what is really happening on the ground — civilians killed, the rules of armed conflict flouted.”
Moscow could try all they want to scare Romania, he added, but “we have no reason to feel threatened.” Ciucă highlighted an episode that occurred on February 24, the first day of the conflict, when a Ukrainian fighter plane was intercepted and allowed to land in Romanian airspace. The incursion was caused by a technical glitch, the pilot reportedly told Romanian officials.
Ciucă said that his jet was permitted to leave unarmed a few days later and that the episode had been made public to prevent misunderstandings with Moscow.
With NATO Article 5 in place, the risk of confrontation beyond Ukraine is very high. If Russia follows through on its warning and attacks NATO country in any way, the situation may quickly escalate into a bigger confrontation between Russia and the West. This is why NATO has rejected the EU fighter transfer plan.