West to back down on fighter jets to Ukraine?
An Axios report says efforts to provide Ukraine with fighter jets may be doomed.
Earlier on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for the US Congress's aid in supplying Ukraine with fighter jets, saying that if NATO wouldn't establish a no-fly zone, then his country would be in need of jets to use them against Russia.
The jets in question are likely Soviet-era MiG-29s, which Poland possesses, and Ukrainian pilots are capable of operating. The plan Zelensky is alluding to is Poland supplying Ukraine with MiG-29s while the US would in turn supply Poland with F-16s.
Two matters come into the forefront here: whether Poland, a NATO member, would be ready to provide Ukraine with these planes and risk provoking Russia, which warned Ukraine's neighbors on Sunday not to host Kiev military warplanes as they could become embroiled in an armed confrontation.
In a video briefing, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said, “We know for sure that Ukrainian combat aircraft have flown to Romania and other neighboring countries."
"The use of the airfield network of these countries for basing Ukrainian military aviation with the subsequent use of force against Russia's army can be regarded as the involvement of these states in an armed conflict," he added.
Another issue lies in the feasibility of such a move. Although Zelensky's plea was met with support from both sides of the US political spectrum, some doubted the effect such a move might have, arguing that other lethal equipment can be given to Ukraine instead of expensive fighter jets.
Michael Kofman, an expert on Russia's military, told Axios that it would be a mistake to "waste time" on the MiG debate, as a lot of the aircraft Ukraine "has put up has gotten shot down." Another reason is related to whether the aircraft would be able to fly from airbases that are being barraged on a daily basis.
‼️FAKE NEWS‼️— Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (@PremierRP_en) March 6, 2022
Unfortunately you are spreading misinformation with quotation from 27/02/22.
Poland won't send its fighter jets to #Ukraine as well as allow to use its airports. We significantly help in many other areas.https://t.co/wjNOgh97JT
Supplying Ukraine with foreign jets or allowing the use of foreign airfields by Ukrainian jets to attack Russian targets would, according to Russia, be considered "the involvement of these states in armed conflict." So far, this consideration has driven the US and NATO decision-making on how they aid Ukraine, which is why it seems, according to the Axios report, that the West may back down on supplying Ukraine with fighter jets for now.