The US has given the ‘green light’ to Poland to send MIG fighter jets to Ukraine and pushed more than 17,000 antitank weapons to Kyiv – all the while fearing being drawn into warfare with Russia.
Several Biden administration officials have spoken on the US physically boosting support for Ukraine while walking a fine line in Russia’s war, as President Vladimir Putin has warned of a direct conflict with the West.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently in Moldova, on Sunday, March 6, 2022, addressed Poland possibly transferring a fleet of jets to Ukraine that the country’s pilots know how to fly.
‘If, for instance, the Polish government, a Nato member, wants to send fighter jets, does that get a green light from the US?’ CBS’ Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked Blinken.
‘That gets the green light,’ Blinken replied. ‘In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to backfill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians.’
In less than a week, the US and Nato have also sent more than 17,000 antitank weapons including Javelin missiles past Poland and Romania’s borders to Kyiv.
Putin on Saturday warned that any country that tries to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, as the sovereign country has requested, would be ‘participating in the armed conflict’.
Then on Sunday, the Russian ministry of defense warned Nato nations including Romania against letting their bases be used as a safe haven for Ukrainian air force planes.
‘Subsequent use against the Russian armed forces can be regarded as the involvement of these states in an armed conflict,’ the Russian ministry of defense stated.
A senior US official told The New York Times: ‘Tell me how we don’t get sucked into a superpower conflict.’ That harkened back to two decades ago when US forces began entering Iraq and US General David Petraeus said, ‘Tell me how this ends’.
Asked on Monday how the US has confidence that delivering the jets in any form will not be viewed by Putin as an act of war, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, ‘first of all, there’s already a war going on in Ukraine’.
‘I think you ask an important question, and it is where do these military planes take off from,’ she continued.
‘Where do they land, how do they get there, the transportation of them. Those are important questions.’
Pressed on concerns that even the provision of the planes might be considered an act of war by Putin, Psaki gave a vague answer.
‘Well again, we can’t speak to President Putin, what’s in his mind, what’s in his brain and the totality of what his intentions are,’ she said. ‘We’ve seen him take a range of steps.’
Earlier on Monday, President Joe Biden partook in a 90-minute video conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been speaking regularly with Putin.
‘The leaders affirmed their determination to continue raising the costs on Russia for its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,’ the White House stated in its readout.
‘They also underscored their commitment to continue providing security, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.’
Also on Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III sent 500 additional American troops to Europe to help reassure Nato allies and deter Russia from advancing beyond Ukraine, according to a senior Pentagon official.
That deployment brings the number of US troops sent to Europe to more than 15,000, in the escalating conflict with an increasingly delicate balance.