Legislators Want Biden to Provide MiG-29s to Ukraine – After the Pentagon rejected a proposal from Poland last week to deliver MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on President Joe Biden to reverse course and assist Poland in delivering the planes to Ukraine.
On Monday, 58 House legislators from both parties signed a letter to the president urging him to provide additional military equipment, vehicles, and planes to Ukraine and to continue ramping up the economic sanctions directed at Russia.
“Despite heroic and skillful resistance by Ukrainian forces, Russia currently retains air superiority over Ukraine,” the letter reads. “Russia’s advantage in this domain could soon develop into air dominance if the Ukrainians do not receive necessary military aid.
The legislators, representing the House Problem Solvers Caucus, also called on the president to supply more air defense systems to Ukraine, arguing that the United States should work with NATO members that own S-300 surface-to-air missile systems and that they should be transferred to Ukraine to assist their efforts against Russia.
The group is led by Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.
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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Polish Defense Minister on Wednesday that the United States would not participate in their proposed plan to send Soviet-built fighter jets to Ukraine. The initial plan was to transfer its fleet of MiG-29s to the German Ramstein Air Base, expecting them to be transferred from the base to Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the decision not to participate was influenced by the opinion of the U.S. intelligence community, citing concerns that providing fighter jets to Ukraine may be considerably more provocative than supplying regular munitions.
Kirby said that supplying the jets could be seen as “escalatory” and that it would “result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO.”
On Thursday, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Scott Berrier told legislators that there was a real concern that assisting Poland may be considered an “escalation” – potentially making NATO countries a target for the Russian military.
“It’s whether or not they perceive us as being in conflict with them,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“We’re in a very challenging position right now where we are obviously providing enormous amounts of support to Ukraine…but at the same time, trying not to escalate the conflict into a full-on NATO or U.S. war with Russia.”
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.