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GOP senators urge President Biden to transfer Poland’s fighter jets to Ukraine

In a letter to Biden, senators demand the U.S. ‘expedite the transfer of urgently-needed airpower’; Polish sources tell a different story than the White House version of what transpired behind the scenes

Illustrative - Russian MiG-29 fighter jet (Photo: Kirill Naumenko/Wikimedia Commons)

A group of 42 Republican senators called on President Joe Biden to accept Poland’s proposal to transfer fighter jets to a U.S. airbase in Germany and deliver them to Ukraine.

“So far, Russian forces have been stymied by stiff Ukrainian resistance, and we must redouble our efforts to prevent a brutal and unlawful takeover of Ukraine,” the senators wrote in a letter to the president on Thursday. “We urge your administration to work with Poland and our NATO allies to expedite the transfer of urgently-needed airpower, air defense systems and other combat and support capabilities from the United States, NATO allies, and other European partners to Ukraine.”

The senators commended the aid that was sent to Ukraine thus far but criticized the president’s decision “to delay and deny Poland the option to offer transfer jets to Ukraine.” 

"We implore you to act without delay to provide urgently needed airpower that will bolster the ability of the Ukrainian armed forces to defend their country and help save civilian lives,” the senators wrote.

The letter was signed by 42 GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). 

The White House ruled out Poland’s proposal after the Pentagon expressed concern that such a handover of jets through a U.S. airbase would be a “high risk” step that could deteriorate into a direct military confrontation with Russia. 

However, Poland is telling a different version of its interaction with the White House. According to the Polish government, it was the White House that first put pressure on Poland to urgently deliver 28 Soviet-era MiG-29s to Ukraine. The White House was expecting Poland to make a direct transfer of the jets however the Polish government did not want to risk a military conflict with Russia.

For that reason, Poland allegedly came up with a creative solution that would put the White House in a difficult position: It offered to send the jets to the American airbase in Germany and let the U.S. handle the transfer to Ukraine from there. In this way, Poland would avoid the risk of starting a war with Russia at the expense of the U.S. further harming their alliance with Putin.

The proposal created a conundrum for the U.S. because Poland reportedly did not run the idea by the White House before making the announcement public.

Unlike mainstream media outlets in the U.S., foreign media has been reporting the Polish narrative. 

On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda met in Warsaw to discuss their response to the crisis unfolding in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. In a joint press conference, the two leaders denied a rift between the U.S. and Poland over the fighter jets saga. 

“The United States and Poland are united in what we have done and are prepared to help Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, full stop,” Harris affirmed.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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