US Not Considering Fighter Jets for Ukraine After Poland, Slovakia Pledge More Than a Dozen MiGs

By Jackson Richman
Jackson Richman
Jackson Richman
Jackson Richman is a Washington correspondent for The Epoch Times. In addition to Washington politics, he covers the intersection of politics and sports/sports and culture. He previously was a writer at Mediaite and Washington correspondent at Jewish News Syndicate. His writing has also appeared in The Washington Examiner. He is an alum of George Washington University.
March 21, 2023Updated: March 21, 2023

The United States is not considering sending fighter jets to Ukraine despite fellow NATO members Poland and Slovakia pledging to send MiG-29s to the Eastern European country amid Russia’s invasion, said the State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel on March 21.

During the State Department press briefing, in response to a question from The Epoch Times of whether Poland and Slovakia’s moves would change the U.S. position on whether to send fighter jets to Ukraine, Patel said no.

“It does not change our position. [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] had an opportunity to speak to this a little bit in Niamey [in Niger] during his press conference,” said Patel.

During the March 16 press conference, Blinken called Poland’s decision to provide MiGs for Ukraine a “sovereign” decision.

Patel reiterated that stance.

“The transfer of military equipment is a sovereign decision for a country to make in a manner consistent with its international obligations. Poland and Slovakia have both been providing a significant amount of security assistance to Ukraine as have more than 50 nations around the world alongside the United States,” he said.

“You’ve heard the president and leaders of the Pentagon be quite clear: F-16s are not something we are considering right now,” he continued. “We have been focused on sending Ukraine what they need to succeed in each phase of this war as we have consistently done so since even before February of last year. Right now, our focus is on air defense capabilities and weapons and equipment they need to take the ground.”

Poland announced on March 16 it would send fighter jets to Ukraine, becoming the first NATO country to do so.

“When it comes to the MiG-29 aircraft, which are still operating in the defense of Polish airspace, a decision has been taken at the highest levels,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda at a press conference.

“We can say confidently that we are sending MiGs to Ukraine.”

Duda told CNN on March 9 that Warsaw “is ready to hand over our MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine as a part of an international coalition.”

Poland and Slovakia’s move could be a turning point for Ukraine in repelling Russia’s invasion as Kyiv has asked for fighter jets since last year—only for Washington and other NATO allies to refuse.

Patel echoed what National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said on March 16 regarding Poland saying it will send fighter jets to Ukraine.

“It doesn’t change our calculus with respect to F-16s,” he said.

“These are sovereign decisions for any country to make and we respect those sovereign decisions.”