Russia-Ukraine: Bipartisan lawmakers urge Biden to work with Poland to supply MiG-29s to Ukraine

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A growing number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to facilitate a deal with Poland to send MiG-29 jets to Ukraine for additional air support as Russia continues its multi-pronged war against the country.

The Pentagon last week rejected Poland’s proposal asking the United States and NATO to deliver MiG-29 jets to the Ukrainian military, arguing that the move could be mistaken for an “escalation” and could lead to a “significant Russian reaction” that could increase the prospects for a military escalation with NATO.

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On Monday, a group of 15 bipartisan House lawmakers wrote a letter to President Biden, urging the administration to provide additional defense equipment to Ukraine and strengthen economic sanctions against Russia.

“Despite the heroic and skilful resistance of Ukrainian forces, Russia currently retains air superiority over Ukraine,” they wrote. “Russia’s advantage in this area could soon turn into air dominance if the Ukrainians do not receive the necessary military aid.”

Lawmakers called for Stinger missiles, saying they believed they would “continue to play a vital role in the fight against Russian air superiority.”

“The United States must also help provide more comprehensive air defense systems to defend Ukraine and its people,” they wrote, adding that the United States should coordinate with NATO allies who possess S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to “facilitate and expedite the transfer of these systems to Ukraine.

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“Providing Soviet-era platforms that the Ukrainian military has previously operated and maintained will be essential to their success on the battlefield and will also prevent American defense technology from falling into Russian hands,” they said. writing.

As for Poland’s proposal, the lawmakers said they “commend the Polish government for taking proactive steps to deliver MiG-29 aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force.”

Two Polish Air Force Russian-made Mig 29s fly above and below two American Polish Air Force F-16 fighter jets during the Radom Air Show, Poland, on August 27, 2011.
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Two Polish Air Force Russian-made Mig 29s fly above and below two American Polish Air Force F-16 fighter jets during the Radom Air Show, Poland, on August 27, 2011.
(AP Photo/Alik Keplicz, File)

“We urge you to help facilitate this agreement, to commit to replenishing our allies’ fleets with American-made aircraft, and also to help advance the transfer of Su-25 aircraft to Ukraine,” they wrote, noting that it is “a pragmatic solution”. quickly provide the Ukrainians with planes that Ukrainian pilots have flown and that their military can maintain. »

“We also believe that the United States should seriously consider strategies to provide more drone capabilities to the Ukrainians, as it has already used Bayraktar TB2 drones successfully on the battlefield,” they added. “Unmanned platforms – to include both intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capabilities – could prove critical to Ukrainian efforts to counter Russian advances.”

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Lawmakers also called for tougher economic sanctions, especially against “third parties who do business with Russian entities and individuals.”

“If necessary, secondary sanctions should be imposed on Chinese banks and companies that do business with Russia, to best ensure that Russia is not able to find a way to compensate for its exclusion from markets and systems. American and European banks,” they wrote.

Calls for sanctions against banks and companies linked to China come after US intelligence officials said Russia asked China for military and economic aid after invading Ukraine.

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The Biden administration has said it is “deeply concerned about China’s alignment with Russia at this time.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers have also called for boosting humanitarian aid to Ukraine as more than 2 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia’s initial invasion on February 24.

Ukrainian emergency workers and volunteers transport an injured pregnant woman from the shell-damaged maternity ward in Mariupol, Ukraine,

Ukrainian emergency workers and volunteers transport an injured pregnant woman from the shell-damaged maternity ward in Mariupol, Ukraine,
(AP Photo/Evgeny Maloletka)

The letter to Biden was signed by Republicans and Democrats, including Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, Jason Crow, D-Colo., Don Bacon, R-Neb., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., James Baird , R-Ind., John Katko, RN.Y., Bill Johnson, RN.C., Conor Lamb, D-Pa., Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., Chris Pappas, DN.H., Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., Jim Costa, D-California, and Kaiali’i Kahele, D-Hawaii.

Meanwhile, their letter to Biden comes after 58 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus – which includes both Republicans and Democrats – urged the US to provide additional defense equipment – ​​including MiGs – to Ukraine.

Poland surprised the United States last week by offering to give its entire fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States in exchange for a chance to buy American F-16s as part of a agreement to strengthen the Ukrainian Air Force while modernizing the Poles with NATO. plane.

The Pentagon the next day pushed back on the move and said it raised concerns about the deployment of warplanes from a US base in a NATO-ally country to fight Russian forces.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, right, and US Vice President Kamala Harris hold a press conference at Belwelder Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, March 10, 2022.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, right, and US Vice President Kamala Harris hold a press conference at Belwelder Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, March 10, 2022.
(Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

The Pentagon, however, said “the best way to support Ukraine’s defense is to provide them with the weapons and systems they need most to defeat Russian aggression, especially anti-armor and air defense.”

US REJECTS POLISH PROPOSAL TO TRANSFER MIG-29 AIRCRAFT TO UKRAINE, CALLS ‘HIGH RISK’ MOVE

“The intelligence community considered that the transfer of MiG-29s could be mistaken for an escalation and could lead to a significant Russian reaction which could increase the prospects for a military escalation with NATO,” the spokesman said. Pentagon, John Kirby.

Calls by members of Congress to support the transfer of MiG-29s come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with the United States and Western allies to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

In this photo provided by Ukraine's Presidential Press Office on Sunday, March 13, 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, shakes hands with an injured soldier during his visit to a hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine.

In this photo provided by Ukraine’s Presidential Press Office on Sunday, March 13, 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, shakes hands with an injured soldier during his visit to a hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Biden and NATO have ruled out a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying implementing it would bring the United States and NATO into direct confrontation with Russia and widen the conflict.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, so it is not subject to the provision of Article V of the NATO alliance which states that when a member country is attacked, all countries members will take action to help.

On Monday, Estonia’s parliament called on UN member states to “take immediate steps to establish a no-fly zone” over Ukraine to avoid further civilian casualties as the war drags on fronts of Russia against the country raged.

Estonia is the first NATO member country to officially call for a no-fly zone as part of the ongoing Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy is expected to deliver a virtual address to members of Congress on Wednesday.

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