The Defense Department on Tuesday rejected an unexpected request from Poland to have the US accept custody of Soviet-era fighter jets that would be delivered to Ukraine in its struggle against Russia, in a rare indication of division among NATO allies.
Officials from the United States claimed they were taken aback by Poland’s offer, which differed from a previous plan for Warsaw to deliver the MiG-29 jets straight to Kyiv.
In a statement, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, “We will continue to talk with Poland and our other NATO members about this matter and the tremendous logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s plan is tenable.”
The US has stated that it would support Poland or another NATO member sending fighter jets to Ukraine, but has not indicated that it would act as a go-between. “Poland did not consult the Pentagon or the State Department about this announcement,” a US official added. When Poland announced it today, both departments learned about it.”
The split between two NATO members occurred as the US and some of its European allies attempted to rally behind a single front against Russia’s economic suffering. As Washington and Europe continued to slap devastating penalties on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies, the Biden administration placed a ban on Russian oil imports.
“We’re banning all Russian oil, gas, and energy imports,” President Joe Biden announced from the White House on Tuesday. “This means Russian oil will no longer be accepted at US ports, and the American people will give Putin’s war machine another heavy blow.”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, praised the US for adopting “a measure that would greatly weaken the occupiers, will make them pay for the invasion, will make them answer for the terrible that they have done.” According to an NBC News translation of his words on Telegram, he said, “I am personally grateful to the United States president, Biden, for this choice.”
Ukraine accused Russia of targeting civilians as it began evacuating residents from the besieged city of Sumy on Tuesday, following the establishment of the first safe corridor since Moscow invaded its democratic neighbour nearly two weeks ago, triggering Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
While intense Ukrainian resistance has halted Russia’s ground invasion, Moscow has increased its air attacks, prompting a refugee exodus that has surpassed 2 million people, with more than half of them seeking asylum in neighbouring Poland. A member of Ukraine’s parliament, Inna Sovsun, accused Putin of terrorising residents from the air and on the ground.
“It appears that Putin’s blitzkrieg preparations have failed, and as a result of their failure, Russian soldiers are now turning vicious,” Sovsun remarked on MSNBC. “Some Russian soldiers who have been held captive by the Ukrainian army have told us that Russian officials are ordering their forces to shoot at civilians.”
In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, CIA Director William Burns backed Sovsun’s grave prognosis.
“Right now, I believe Putin is angry and disappointed,” Burns added. “He’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military, oblivious to civilian losses.”