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We Might Know Why Joe Biden Is So Afraid to Give MiG-29 Fighters to Ukraine

Polish Air Force MiG-29 at the 2013 Royal International Air Tattoo.

The Biden administration’s objections to the transfer of MiG-29s from Poland to Ukraine have been perplexing to many commentators and analysts, as have their purported explanations.

The latest of which, supposedly from the DoD, was that the transfer of the aircraft would have little effect and be too provocative. MiG-29s wouldn’t be helpful? Really?

And yet, these arguments have been rejected by many generals and experts who believe these MiG-29 aircraft could make a difference in the ability of Ukraine to defend itself, and see little escalatory difference from the weapons we are currently providing.

In fact, Ukraine, with its current force of fifty-six MiGs has indicated that the 50% increase this would represent will help them achieve a critical mass necessary to combat the Russians.

Not Just MiG-29s: Why Joe Biden Isn’t Helping Ukraine As Much as He Could 

But the truth is the administration has been providing only limited support for quite some time.

Even back in November before the invasion, when they were warning vociferously of it, Ukraine’s request for Harpoon anti-ship missiles was denied, with which it could have defended its ports.

More recently, the administration has balked at a ban on Russian oil, only agreeing to it under pressure from House Democrats.

So why is the Administration throwing Ukraine under the proverbial bridge and giving these tepid explanations?

Maybe, because it has something that it wants far more, and it needs the Russians for it.  Maybe, it’s the new Iran nuclear deal. And, the White House wants it so badly, it is willing to placate Russia on Ukraine by blocking the transfer.

Note that the transfer of an array of weapons to Ukraine has received vast and rare bi-partisan support through the recent passage of the funding bill, with $13.6 billion in aid.

Likewise, senators and congressmen from both parties have called for the transfer of these fighters, as well as other arms.

But the administration keeps coming up with excuses, first signaling it endorsed the transfer but blaming Poland for the delay, and then upon having their hands forced when Poland offered to fly the planes to Ramstein Air Base and turn them over to the US, came the latest explanations. Supposedly from DOD.

This makes us look spineless, disorganized, and without resolve, when it is increasingly clear NATO is capable of crushing Russia.

It makes us look afraid.

But, it does inspire the Russians to press further. And given this confusion, it’s time for the administration to be honest as to what is important to them. Currently, it doesn’t appear to be Ukraine.

Forget the questionable decision to continue relying on the Russians as mediators in our negotiations with Iran. Our legislators need to know the administration’s true priorities, as well as the other NATO members, so we don’t look indecisive in this war.

It only signals weakness to the rest of the world, including China.

And not all of it needs to be shared publically, like virtually everything else that has been shared about what we will not be willing to do.

Notice that Putin acts, then he tells you what he wants, and he does so with a hammer.

He doesn’t ask permission.

We may wish to consider the same strategy because he has been out-maneuvering and out-bluffing us and because NATO appears paralyzed.

Beyond the MiG-29 Fiasco

But before we do that, we need to be in agreement as to what our priorities are.

Personally, I think we owe it to Ukraine, we got them to divest of their nukes with an implicit promise of protection; without that, this would probably not have occurred. And they are fighting courageously and our words and principles matter.

But I am not in a position to make policy, it is our administration, NATO, and our legislature. And the question is how do we want to define ourselves?

Because this is not the only threat or challenge that the US or NATO will likely confront.

Dr. James Refalo is a Professor at Cal State University Los Angeles and a former Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S Navy.

Written By

James Refalo is a Professor at Cal State University Los Angeles and a former Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S Navy.



  1. John Deer

    March 12, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    Well Mr. Refalo… Let’s face it. It is an economical war as every other that America participated in. USA printed 700 billion USD pushing American economy towards catastrophy. Niw they have to do something to get the military industrial complex going, making loads of dollars on any war possible.
    America wants to put on fire as many countries in Europe as possible and make new business when the dust settles. Ukraine? Your administration doesn’t give a damn about civilians. They are just „a tragic loss your administration is ready to take” in order to be able to take over iron ore mines, uranium, aluminium and maaaany tons of rare metals and gases used to produce EV Vehicles and semiconductors while at the same time they can make USA independent from China. USA controls seaways from China to Europe. Ukrainr is the lower gate of China to EU. Who rules there, controls trade flows.
    Now the other side if the table- China doesn’t need a neighbour strong enough to be a threat to them. They most probably pushed Russia into this war in order to be able to purchase russian oil, mining, steel and gas companies as they go bankrupt post sanctions and get even stronger after sh** hits the fan.

    All this mess is just USA – China economical war played on European grounds that Russia wanted got played into as they wanted to strengthen their position in the region but didn’t do their math properly.

    Summing up- you are too old Mr. Refalo to see your admin as a mn arbiter of the free world. Your admin as any other admin in the world today (with insignificant exceptions) is just a representative of big business. Let’s just stop pretending it is anything else. Lying to yourself is ok when you’re in high school, at our age it is just improper.

  2. Yes me

    March 12, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    Do you hate Biden by any chance? Never heard of you and still I had this feeling reading your ?️

  3. James Refalo

    March 12, 2022 at 3:05 pm

    I don’t hate Biden, but I feel WH priorities are conflicted, and I am very happy for the extreme bi-partisanship we have been experiencing among house and senate Democrats and Republicans. But people in Ukraine are having their lives and country destroyed, and we are almost permitting ourselves to told what we can and cannot do. I don’t have enmity toward the Russians either, but their military operations are barbaric. And this needs to end. And if a 28 fighters will help that, they should be transferred. Moreover, we really do need to be on the same page, this is not the only conflict NATO is likely to get into.

  4. yellowstoneuk

    March 12, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Simplistic explanation is usually the best. Biden’s administration is simply scared to supply mig29’s to ukraine. Either the russians have made it a red line or Biden is scared of his own shadow and created a red line. The
    The mig29 would have been safer for the usa, since it would have not involved the danger of western technology falling into Russian hands. That is why the decision not to provide the mig29 is puzzling. The only other reason, would be compared with anti tank and stinger weapons, the mig29 can be used for offensive action may be involving cross border incursion.

  5. Evan Kepper

    March 12, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    I’m pretty sure the administration is walking am extemely fine line in order to ensure we don’t get dragged into this war. With a very unstable Putin and his finger on the nuclear launch button, turning over those MiGs to the Ukrainians could elict a very dangerous response. You want to take that chance? This admin, unlike the last one is highly intelligent and understands the geo political nuances necessary to avoid instigating WWIII. My guess is you are just another Trumper and a Putin apologist.

  6. greenman

    March 12, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    The mig29 decision is puzzling, since the aircraft would prevent western technology falling into the hands of the russians. Bearing in mind that Russia lied about not invading ukraine, I hardly see Russia’s a credible arbiter in negotiations with Iran.
    Unless the usa wants to hobble the EU by increasing the border contact between a hostile Russia and the EU.
    The mig29 aircraft by its nature is a mobile offensive weapon when compared with short range anti tank and stinger already given to ukraine. Maybe the mobility of the mig29 is what the Biden administration is worried.

  7. JSBear

    March 12, 2022 at 4:41 pm

    I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some serious concerns, will we (NATO, EU, US etc.) regret not joining the fight in the years to come? These are difficult questions, what does appear to clear is that virtually every nation believes this invasion was not justified.

    It is very clear Russia and China vs virtually everyone else. Taiwan will be next, I don’t doubt that these 2 nations have already discussed it, and Ruusia said we are fjrst.

  8. David J Matthews

    March 12, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    As a British subject educated in the UK and having lived though the bombing of Coventry during second world war I’m shocked by the fear and reluctance of the US to support Ukraine in their desperate hour of need. Let’s show some backbone!

  9. John

    March 12, 2022 at 7:06 pm

    This is nuts. You are simply wildly wrong about what drives a Democratic politician of Biden’s background. He’s a lot more worried about an aggressive Putin than the continued absence of an Iran nuclear deal. But he is also afraid (you can argue whether it’s “too afraid”) of nuclear escalation with Russia — which already HAS nuclear weapons. It’s all horses, no zebras.

  10. Anders

    March 12, 2022 at 10:08 pm

    The Biden Administration has been defining red lines for itself, i.e., we can’t do this or that. How stupid is that? You are basically reducing your own deterrence.

    HR McMaster suggested providing medium-range SAMs, surface to ground missiles, and drones. Good idea.

    Recall Patton’s speech: “‘What did you do in the great World War Two?’ You won’t have to cough and say, ‘Well, your granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.'” Well, are we?

  11. Jeff

    March 13, 2022 at 9:45 am

    Mr. Refalo,
    You’re thinking like an Officer. Stop it. The United States has no national interest in Ukraine. There is no treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate. In fact, the whole military action currently ongoing in Ukraine is NATO’s fault by dangling the prospect of membership after promising Russia that NATO wouldn’t continue to expand to Russian borders. Further, Ukraine is not the ‘good guy’ the media insists on portraying. You might want to do a little research into Victoria Nuland, her part in engineering Ukraine’s “regime change” in early 2014, and her recent Congressional testimony on bio labs in Ukraine before you rush to support the military/industrial complex.

  12. Richard Young

    March 13, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    We owe Ukraine nothing, they have interfered in our politics through corruption and deceit. They were a backdoor into election fraud and the Russian Hoax. All with the support of the Globalists & Soros crowd. Funny, look who supports Ukraine now, Klaus Schwab, George Soros, Clintons, and the parents of children on Ukraine Energy Companies like Pelosi, Romney, Kerry Biden, Personally, I’m Rootin for Putin as he opposes One World Order and the United Nation’s Agenda 21.

  13. Alex

    March 14, 2022 at 11:16 am

    1. Where to take off from if 90% of airfields in Ukraine are destroyed?
    2. What can an old Soviet aircraft do against new Russian aircraft? Nothing.

  14. Richard P Thomas

    March 14, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Dear Mr. R., You use a mixed idiom made up from “Water under the bridge,” and “Throw under the bus.” I think you mean the latter. Other than that thanks for tackling a puzzling question. If I had reason to believe your cynical conclusion had basis in Biden’s past actions I would give it more credit but until then, I’ll keep wondering. Not ruling it out and it has a plausible ring to it but the speculations you make still leaves some gaps. I think it still more likely grounded in the delusion that not engaging will keep Russia contained. As has been quoted many times lately what Churchill said is still relevant…America always does the right thing but only after they have exhausted every other possibility. It is certainly exhusting and painful.

  15. zxcv

    March 14, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    It’s clear whose side Grandpa is on. The MIGs would have destroyed the Russian 40 mile long convoy and probably ended Putin’s chances. Notice how confident Putin was to put this 40 mile BULLSEYE in harms way that Ukraine would not have the MIGs needed to finish it off.

    For those clutching the Dem narrative that it would escalate the war, then what you are really saying is either Putin wins or Putin presses the button..

    None of this is to say the US should have been in Ukraine in the first place. I don’t know enough to say about that.

  16. Tom Billesley

    March 15, 2022 at 5:14 am

    USA has no obligation to be involved?
    The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances comprises three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994 to provide security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.

    The memorandum prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. In return Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons.

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