Send the MiG-29s to Ukraine (via truck if need be): Recently, Poland offered to send its older, Russian-made (but Polish!) MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. It then altered its offer to send the jets instead to America’s Ramstein Air Force base in Germany, from which it said the US could transfer them to Ukraine. In return, the US was to send to Ukraine some US-made F-16 fighter jets, which would be an upgrade for Poland’s air force.
While the initial offer sparked US interest, particularly since Ukraine has pilots who are trained to fly the MiG-29, the Pentagon has now turned down the Polish offer, not wanting to send fighter planes from Germany to Ukraine, apparently worried about the optics of a NATO base sending fighters into Ukraine to engage Russian aircraft and troops, etc.
Behind this concern may be the recent Russian Defense Ministry statement week that countries offering their airfields for use by aircraft attacking Russian forces would be considered parties to the conflict in Ukraine.
This is the reason why the US and other NATO nations have also thus far rejected President Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone. For a no-fly zone would mean NATO aircraft flown by NATO pilots, mostly likely from NATO airbases outside of Ukraine, attacking Russian troops, vehicles, and planes. Russia would not be wrong to conclude that this would be a broadening of the war to NATO countries.
But is there not a simple solution?
If we are worried about the optics (and Russian interpretations) of flying NATO planes (even if Russian-made) into Ukraine to fight the Russians, why not transport them in via ground transport such as trucks or trains?
NATO countries have already been transporting anti-aircraft systems and other weapons into Ukraine in vast numbers and the war has not spread beyond Ukraine to date. This would simply be one more kind of weapon transported into Ukraine by friends of Ukraine. These planes would not be piloted by NATO pilots, nor would they have the markings of NATO nation militaries, nor would they be flying out of NATO bases. They would be planes with Ukrainian markings, owned by the Ukrainian military, flown by Ukrainian pilots, transported in by ground, and not flown from NATO military bases into Ukraine.
I am sure there are logistical challenges involved in moving a 22,200-pound aircraft with a 36-foot wingspan. Yet, could not the planes be moved via train or truck across the border into Ukraine from Poland? Broad highways could be used and temporarily closed to traffic to make the move. Perhaps removing the wings would make the move easier, if need be. Or could not the aircraft be flown to Poland’s border with Ukraine and then be rolled/driven/towed across the border via broad roadways?
I think all of this has been made too complicated, an important opportunity lost by the Pentagon’s refusal to work with Poland to give Ukraine what President Zelensky has asked for. It is in America’s interest to help Ukraine and to see Russia stopped, even as it is in America’s interest to avoid war with Moscow.
Might we not go back to the drawing board and seek a way to help Ukraine in this way as it fights a brutal bully? The tide of war in Ukraine has now shifted. Russian forces have bogged down and are running short of ammunition. Four of Russia’s generals have been killed in action by Ukrainian forces, and thousands of its soldiers have been lost to date. The time is now to help Ukraine push back harder against Russian forces to stop this insidious Russian act of aggression.
Send the MiG-29s to Ukraine, now.
Gregory Moore is a political science professor with many years of experience teaching, researching, and writing about China, Russia, North Korea, and US Foreign Policy. He is currently a Republican candidate for the US Senate from the State of Colorado. He can be reached via Mooreforcolorado.com.
March 25, 2022 at 7:16 pm
why don’t we send the Moldavian Mig-29s that are in storage at Wright Patterson. costing money just to sit there.
March 25, 2022 at 8:04 pm
Yes! Yes! Yes!
March 25, 2022 at 11:12 pm
I am NOT the only US veteran that is utterly embarrassed by the timidity (cowardice?) of our leaders. Why, oh why, do our leaders shake and shiver everytime Vlad rattles his sabre?
You have the right, the obligation, to call Vlad’s bluff. You have the right to escalate and make your own demands based on your own terms; not Vlad’s terms.
Putin is terrified of the US air force. Use it!!
March 26, 2022 at 2:40 pm
We urgently need to transport this Soviet rubbish. At least Russia will practice on them.
March 26, 2022 at 2:41 pm
Dan Lee: As a veteran, you have to come to Ukraine and fight. Perhaps you will understand what a Russian soldier is, or rather, this will be the last thing you will see.