NATO countries given 'green light' to send fighter jets to Ukraine, Blinken says

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that NATO, the European Union and G7 countries are working to increase sanctions on Russia.
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Russian MiG-29 fighter jet, Aug. 10, 2012
Russian MiG-29 fighter jet, Aug. 10, 2012
Kirill Naumenko/Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that NATO member countries have a "green light" to send fighter jets as military aid to Ukraine.

The United States is reportedly in talks with Poland to send U.S. planes to replace any Soviet-era fighter jets that Warsaw sends to Ukraine, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Sending planes to Ukraine "gets a green light," Blinken told CBS News on Sunday.

"In fact, we're talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs, if, in fact, they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians," he said. "What can we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they're handing over to the Ukrainians? We're in very active discussions with them about that."

Blinken said that NATO, the European Union and G7 countries are working together to increase sanctions on Russia, "as well as taking further steps to give the Ukrainians what they need to defend themselves against the Russian aggression."

Secretary of State Blinken also voiced concerns that the war may go on for a while, but he is optimistic about Ukraine winning.

"The challenge is this: Vladimir Putin continues to press this aggression. That's why I say I'm afraid this could go on for some time. But it's going to end, and it's going to end with Ukraine prevailing," he said. 

"Taking the city is not the same thing as capturing the hearts and minds of Ukrainians," Blinken said.

At the State of the Union, President Joe Biden made a similar point, but he accidentally said Iranian instead of Ukrainian. "​​Putin may circle Kiev with tanks but he'll never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people," Biden said.

Under the current fighter jet proposal, Poland would send Ukraine the Russian-made MiGs it received after the end of the Cold War, according to the WSJ.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has continued to call for a no-fly zone to be established over Ukraine. The United States has not agreed to establish one as Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened that any country that establishes one would be considered an enemy combatant.