The United States rejected a surprise offer by NATO ally Poland on Tuesday to transfer its Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets to a U.S. base in Germany as a way to replenish Ukraine’s air force in its defense against invading Russian forces.
The United States has sought to speed weapons deliveries to Ukraine. But the prospect of flying combat aircraft from NATO territory into the war zone “raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance,” the Pentagon said.
NATO has said it does not want direct conflict with Russia, a fellow nuclear-armed power, and President Joe Biden has ruled out sending U.S. troops into Ukraine to fight, something the Pentagon has said would apply to troops on the ground or in the air, flying missions.
“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said of Poland’s proposal.
“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.”
Poland’s foreign ministry announced on Tuesday that it was ready to deploy its MiG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the United States. It urged other members of the alliance that had other such aircraft to do the same.