Vice President Kamala Harris drove to Warsaw on Wednesday to thank Poland for taking in more than 1 million Ukrainian refugees – but the Veep will land amid a controversy over US rejection Offer from Poland Deploying Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine via an American airbase in Germany.
The Polish government announced on Tuesday that it had offered to station 28 MiG-29 jets at Ramstein Air Base for the US to take possession of and offer to the Kyiv government. However, the Pentagon said the offer “raises serious concerns” and dismissed it as unsustainable
“The prospect of warplanes ‘at the disposal of the US government’ departing from a US/NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace contested with Russia over Ukraine is a matter of serious concern for the entire NATO alliance.” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, has warned that Moscow will retaliate against nations that have aided Ukraine militarily or participated in a no-fly zone over the country.
In an appeal on Saturday with members of Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked lawmakers to establish a no-fly zone and deploy fighter jets to help Ukrainian forces repel Russian troops.
The White House seemed surprised by the Polish proposal even after the Secretary of State Anton Blinken had said over the weekend that NATO had given Poland the “green light” to send the jets.
The confusion over the overture marks a rare moment of discord between the US and its allies after they agreed to impose a series of crippling sanctions on Russian banks, Putin and his inner circle of oligarchs that have led to the ruble has fallen to record lows.
Harris’ already high-level visit to Poland and Romania will now also include the clarification of this disagreement.
“This fighter jet situation is a messy thing and Harris needs to go in there and smooth things over,” said Daniel Fried, who served as US ambassador to Poland for President Bill Clinton and a senior adviser in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations the Associated Press.
“There are many discussions about the further way with the Poles, which should better be conducted in a personal conversation,” added Fried.
In exchange for abandoning the MiGs, Poland had asked the US to supply them with F-16s. On Wednesday, the head of US European Command ordered two Patriot missile batteries to be moved from Germany to Poland to “counter any potential threat to US and allied forces and NATO territory,” an EUCOM spokeswoman said.
This week’s stay is the latest high-level foreign trip by Harris, who was seconded to Germany for the Munich Security Conference Days before the start of the Russian invasion. Republican congressmen had mocked that visit, pointing out that Harris, as Biden’s migration czar, was unable to stop the ongoing US-Mexico border crisis.
Last year, Harris was sent to France to smooth things over with French President Emmanuel Macron after announcing one US-UK Submarine Agreement with Australia which replaced an earlier agreement between the Paris and Canberra governments.
Harris was also mocked earlier this year for providing an overly basic breakdown of the European crisis in a radio interview, and began her explanation of the tense geopolitical situation by saying, “Ukraine is a country in Europe.”
In Poland, which has taken in more than 1.2 million Ukrainian refugees, the vice president will discuss the implementation of economic sanctions against Russia, unity among western allies and humanitarian and security assistance to Ukraine, senior government officials said.
Along with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Harris is scheduled to meet Ukrainians who have fled to Poland on Thursday.
She will also discuss Ukraine with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is also visiting Warsaw this week.
On Friday, Harris will meet Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest before returning to Washington
https://nypost.com/2022/03/09/kamala-harris-heads-to-poland-amid-fighter-jet-controversy/ Kamala Harris travels to Poland amid fighter jet controversy