Rob Portman Questions Logic of Withholding Fighter Jets From Ukraine

Senator Rob Portman questioned Sunday why the U.S. scrapped Poland’s proposal to switch MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, stating that he believes the transfer is crucial for the continuing conflict effort.

Portman, a Republican from Ohio, who co-chairs the Senate’s Ukraine caucus, instructed CNN’s State of the Union that he’s not sure why the U.S. is afraid to ship fighter plane when it already despatched different tools, resembling helicopters and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.

“We have given them helicopters. As recently as January, we provided them U.S. military helicopters,” he said. “Those are directly from the United States. In this case, this would be Poland providing these airplanes, which are Soviet-style planes. There are also two other countries, Slovakia and Bulgaria, that have these airplanes. What we have heard directly from the Ukrainians is they want them badly. They want the ability to have better control over the skies in order to give them a fighting chance.”

The senator additionally rejected the notion that sending fighter jets might escalate tensions with Russia resulting in an extra battle within the space.

“The Russians have complained about everything. [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has said that the sanctions are an act of war. They certainly complained when we provided Stingers directly from the U.S. government, which can knock down an airplane and have been successful in doing that at lower altitudes,” he mentioned in the course of the interview. “I don’t understand why this is any worse than, from a Russian point of view, than other things…that we’ve already done or that we’re talking about.”

Rob Portman
Senator Rob Portman questioned on Sunday the U.S. resolution to not switch fighter jets from Poland to help Ukraine. Above, Portman speaks in Washington, DC, on February 1.

His feedback got here after Pentagon press secretary John Kirby mentioned this week that Poland’s proposal to switch the fighter jets to a U.S. air base in Germany so as to assist Ukraine was not “tenable.”

Kirby mentioned the plan might enhance the danger of furthering tensions with Russia, and that the U.S. ought to as a substitute give attention to supplying the nation with anti-armor and air protection techniques. Russia has beforehand warned that supporting Ukraine’s air power could be akin to taking part within the conflict.

“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” Kirby mentioned in his announcement. “We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents.”

However, that announcement got here simply days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken initially mentioned that Poland acquired “the green light” from the U.S. to ship the planes. Reversing course on the choice sparked confusion in Washington, with Democrats and Republicans questioning the rationale of backing out of the plan.

“I don’t understand why we’re not doing it. We initially gave it a green light. As you know, last weekend, the secretary of state said it was going to get a green light. And for some reason, now we’re blocking it,” Portman added on Sunday.

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