Poland said on Tuesday it was ready to deploy all of its MiG-29 fighter jets – immediately and free of charge – to the US Air Force’s Ramstein air base in Germany and put them at Washington’s disposal for Ukraine, the Guardian reported. Statement issued by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the same time, Poland asks the United States to provide us with used aircraft with the corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately impose conditions for the purchase of aircraft.”
In its statement, the Polish government urged “other NATO allies – owners of MIG-29 aircraft – to act in the same vein.”
A senior foreign ministry official said on Tuesday that Poland had not consulted with the United States before issuing its statement about readiness to transfer aircraft to the United States in Germany.
“I saw this announcement by the government of Poland while I was driving here today,” Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
“As far as I know, we have not been consulted in advance about their intention to give us these planes,” she said.
“I look forward when this hearing is over to go back to my office and see how we will respond to this proposal from their side to give the planes to us,” she said, noting that the United States and Poland have been consulting for a couple of days on the subject.
Meanwhile, a senior US defense official told CNN they saw the Polish government’s announcement “and have nothing to offer at this time.”
More background: It is still not clear where the US will withdraw the F-16s in order to send them to Poland or other Eastern European countries in the near term. But members of Congress support the effort. Senator Ben Cardin asked Nuland that the Biden administration notify them if there were any delays in moving the F-16s to Poland.
However, two European diplomats told CNN that the complex logistics behind the idea that US and Polish officials have now discussed has yet to be determined.
The sources said that the Polish announcement comes after some Polish officials became frustrated with the US leaning forward on the issue over the weekend.
“Actually, we are talking with our Polish friends right now about what we can do to meet their needs if they in fact choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians. What can we do? How can we help them?” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on CBS Sunday. Make sure they get something to block the planes they’re handing over to the Ukrainians? We are having very active discussions with them about that.”
A Polish official said the Poles believed Vice President Harris’ visit to Poland in the coming days would be a good time for the United States to announce more details, but it did not know if that would happen.
A diplomat from Central Europe said that other countries in talks with the United States about taking part in such talks are going quietly, without raising expectations.
CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed reporting for this post.
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