U.S. says no deal to Poland's offer to transfer Russian-made fighter jets for Ukraine to Ramstein

The offer on Tuesday from Poland came as a surprise to U.S. defense officials.

Updated: March 9, 2022 - 10:28am

The U.S. has rejected a surprise offer by NATO ally Poland to transfer its Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets to a U.S. base in Germany so they can give them to Ukraine's air force. 

The U.S. is attempting to rush weapons deliveries to Ukraine. However, defense officials are concerned by the prospect of flying combat aircraft from NATO territory into the war zone.

NATO has avoided, and wishes to continue avoiding, direct conflict with Russia, and President Joe Biden says he will not send U.S. troops into Ukraine to fight, which includes Ukraine's airspace.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, "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."

On Tuesday, Poland offered to send its MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base, in Germany, effectively transferring them to the U.S. to then transport them o Ukraine. Poland encouraged other NATO allies to consider doing the same. The proposal came to U.S. officials as a surprise.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had pleaded with European countries to send Russian-made aircraft, an ask he also delivered to U.S. lawmakers over the weekend. Some U.S. lawmakers eager to quicken the pace of defensive aid delivered to Ukraine were supportive of the aircraft transfer plan.

Russia has warned that any country offering air fields to Ukraine used for attacks on Russia will be considered an entrant into the conflict.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bipartisan spending bill approved by congressional negotiators early Wednesday to keep the federal government fully operational past Friday also provides loan guarantees to Poland to help replace aircraft it is sending Ukraine. 

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