Speaking with CBS’ Sunday program “Face The Nation,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US has given a “green light” for US forces to “backfill” NATO nations with F-16 fighter jets, as other NATO nations provide Ukraine with fighter jets.
Speaking specifically of Poland’s decision to send MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine, Blinken said “In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if, in fact, they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians. What can we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they are handing over to the Ukrainians?”
This development was echoed by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the UN, when she said “We have been in close consultations with the Polish government as well as with our other NATO allies on this issue. We have not in any way opposed the Polish government providing these jets to Ukraine, and we’re working, as you noted, to see how we can backfill for them.” She went on to say, “We are working with our American, especially, friends and allies, on the steady supply of all the ammunition and anti-air, anti-tank, and planes to be able to effectively defend our country.”
The MiG-29 fighters have been, for the past 15 years, pashed-out of Poland’s arsenal. This backfill opportunity would benefit Poland in that they would have updated fighters and they would also become less reliant on Russian-made equipment.
Blinken’s “green light” gives US officials to begin working through timelines and proposed coordination of equipment backfilling. Blinken said, “We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decided to use those—to supply those planes. “I can’t speak to a timeline, but I can just tell you we’re looking at it very, very actively.”
US lawmakers and officials are being pressured to support Ukraine, as Russia continues its unprovoked war on Ukraine.
According to Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), “President Zelensky made a desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine,. These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer.”