MiG-29 fighter jets: US rejects Poland's offer

Poland has offered to send 28 Soviet-made fighter jets, which Ukrainian air force pilots already know how to fly, to Ukraine to help it defend itself against the Russian invaders. The MiG-29 jets were to be delivered to a US air base in Germany, repainted, and transferred to Ukraine. Washington has now rejected the scheme citing fears that Nato could be dragged into the war. Is this peacekeeping or a missed opportunity?

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Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Keep the conflict geographically confined

Sending Polish MiG-29 fighter jets would turn the war in Ukraine into a multilateral conflagration, writes the Tages-Anzeiger:

“There is a great danger that if the MiGs were brought from Nato territory onto Ukrainian territory Moscow would interpret it as Western intervention in the war. ... The war in Ukraine is bringing terrible suffering to the people there. But as far as the military aspects are concerned, so far this is a geographically limited conflict between Russia and Ukraine. As long as that remains the case, the conflict can be controlled militarily and politically. ... Repainted Polish jets would be exactly what Putin wants.”

The Independent (GB) /

Putin wouldn't risk starting a world war

The fighter jets should have been delivered, says The Independent:

“It is a depressing thought that such a golden opportunity is being tossed away because ... well, because it might upset the Russians and cause a third world war? But it wouldn't, because the Russians know they'd lose, and for that reason a third world war wouldn't happen. It is the seemingly forgotten doctrine of collective security and nuclear deterrence that has kept the west safe since the end of the Second World War. President Biden, a dedicated Atlanticist, seems to have mislaid his old Cold War instincts.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Confront the reality

The West must stop making such a big deal of its taboos, Hospodářské urges:

“As long as the West keeps insisting that it wants to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia at any cost, it only encourages Putin's regime to conquer more territories. ... Zelensky's appeal to the West not to postpone a direct clash with Russia sounds foolish only to those who do not want to hear the reality. He says that because of its conflict with the West, Russia has already decided that we are in a direct confrontation. It is only because of our reassuring de jure umbrella that we do not see this de facto state of affairs. And it will soon catch up with us.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Please not at the expense of unity

This was a major tactical blunder, Deutschlandfunk criticises:

“What no one needs right now is unilateral moves made without consultation which expose partners in the pro-Ukraine coalition. ... Poland's government was at a loss as to how it could get out of its promise to Ukraine, but now Warsaw has done it at the expense of its close ally, the US. Sure, the Poles don't want to start a war with Russia and therefore didn't want to give the MiGs to Ukraine directly. But to simply shift the responsibility onto the Americans without having discussed the details with them is outrageous.”

wPolityce.pl (PL) /

The US has backtracked

The Polish government has done everything right, finds wPolityce:

“Warsaw has taken the right course, clearly defined Poland's interests and at the same time - in other areas - not skimped on aid to Ukraine, including arms, ammunition and other forms of support. The Americans did not think through their steps - or their consequences - carefully enough. First they pushed for the planes to be handed over, but when our government took them at their word, they quickly backed down.”

Onet.pl (PL) /

This was the time for discretion

On this particular matter public debate is counterproductive, news website Onet.pl puts in:

“What went wrong? Intelligence and military officers say that such matters require three things: first, secrecy; second, secrecy; and third, secrecy. Regarding the MiGs, however, there have been endless announcements, denials and explanations. ... On both the American and Polish sides there are officials and politicians who advocate arming Ukraine to fight Russia. But it looks like their efforts are being thwarted by domestic political games. The saddest thing is that after this exchange of totally unnecessary statements, the Polish MiG-29 fighter jets may never reach Ukraine.”