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Poland Calls The Biden Administration’s Bluff

Surprisingly, Poland just foiled the Washington establishment’s plans to get more involved in the war in Ukraine

Over the weekend, Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave the “green light” to any NATO countries looking to provide Ukraine with fighter jets, and claimed the U.S. was working on a deal with Poland to provide the Ukrainians with MiG-29s in exchange for American F-16s. But Poland had other plans.

On Tuesday evening, the Associated Press reported that the United States had rejected an offer from Poland to gift the MiG-29s to the U.S. in exchange for F-16s so America could gift the MiG-29s to the Ukrainians. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Poland’s proposal was not workable because if Poland delivered the MiG-29s to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany, those planes would fly directly from the U.S. and NATO base to Ukraine, where the airspace is almost completely dominated by Russia.

“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Kirby proclaimed.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense has already warned that Russia could consider countries who provided the Ukrainians with fighter jets or access to airfield networks belligerents in the current war.

Previously, Blinken and the Biden administration suggested the deal discussed between the secretary of state and Poland was a jet exchange where Poland would send its MiG-29s to Ukraine and the U.S. would provide the Poles with F-16s. If the AP report is to be believed, the Poles’ counter offer was suggested after Blinken’s departure, and not brought up during the secretary of state’s brief visit in Poland. The Biden administration was blindsided by the news, the AP claimed. During a hearing on the situation in Ukraine Tuesday, U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland—famous for encouraging the Euromaidan revolution in 2014—told legislators Poland’s proposal, “wasn’t pre-consulted with us.”

Just prior to the defunct deal becoming public knowledge, I published a piece in The American Conservative that said the following:

Poland’s readiness to interject in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the willingness of other countries on NATO’s eastern front to do the same, has been a point of concern for those hoping the current conflict doesn’t spiral into something more cataclysmic through NATO involvement. If Poland rejects the Biden administration’s jet-exchange proposal, it may show that cooler heads are beginning to prevail in these eastern NATO countries. But if Poland were to change its stated course and give some of its MiG-29s to Ukraine in exchange for F-16s, it would certainly constitute an escalation.

Poland seems to understand the risk of escalation, and took Russia’s threats seriously. The Twitter account for Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s chancellery quickly shot down Blinken’s suggestion that Poland may provide Ukraine with MiG-29s. “Poland won’t send its fighter jets to #Ukraine as well as allow to use its airports. We significantly help in many other areas,” the chancellery claimed.

If a jet exchange program, whether through the U.S. providing Polish planes to the Ukrainians or the Poles providing them to Ukraine themselves, was never on the table, Poland’s counter offer effectively called the Biden administration’s bluff. 

It seems the Poles purposefully designed their counter offer so that the Biden administration would be forced to reject it. In doing so, Poland revealed that the Washington establishment seeks to mostly pawn off its desire for war with Russia to smaller NATO countries. If Poland agreed to provide MiG-29s to Ukraine, Russia would attempt to prevent that from happening, and take actions in the process that could trigger NATO’s Article 5 commitments. This would ostensibly justify full U.S. involvement while allowing Washington to place the blame somewhere else. The establishment doesn’t fear war; they only fear being blamed for it.

But if America was to supply Ukraine with MiG-29s, the inevitability of war that comes with providing Ukraine warplanes becomes unquestionably clear. If the Biden administration takes its NATO commitments as seriously as it claims, in each of these scenarios the outcome is the same: war between Russia and NATO.

After Poland called America’s bluff, the Pentagon announced Wednesday that it was no longer encouraging NATO countries to hatch plans to give Ukraine MiG-29 fighter jets because it was too “high-risk” and would not significantly help the Ukrainians.

Poland foiled the Washington establishment’s plans to get more involved in the war in Ukraine this time, but, as sure as the sun rises, the establishment will try again.