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US surprised at Poland's decision to give it fighter jets for Ukraine

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Poland's decision to put all its MiG-29 fighter jets at the disposal of the US was “a surprise move” by Warsaw, the US State Department's No. 3 diplomat said on Tuesday, after Ukraine asked European countries to provide aircraft to help it fight Russia's invasion.

“To my knowledge, it wasn't pre-consulted with us that they planned to give these planes to us,” State Department Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “So I think that actually was a surprise move by the Poles,” she said.

Poland is ready to deploy all its MiG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the US, and urges other NATO members that own planes of that type to do the same, the Polish Foreign Ministry said earlier.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week made a “desperate plea for European countries to provide Russian-made planes” for Ukraine's fight against Russian invaders during a video call Saturday with US lawmakers.

US lawmakers have been pushing the Biden administration to facilitate the transfer of fighter aircraft to Ukraine from Poland and other NATO and Eastern European countries.

The administration has been discussing Ukraine's request with Poland. US administration officials said there were logistical challenges both in moving aircraft into Ukraine and providing replacement US planes.

Nuland said the main issue was to assess what Poland's immediate needs would be given it is adjacent to the conflict.

“Poland -- they benefit from full air security from the NATO alliance. ... The main issue is to evaluate what Poland's immediate needs are in the context of being a neighbor of this conflict,” she said, adding that Washington was also looking at putting some Patriot missile batteries into Poland.

Poland is supporting Kyiv with defensive weapons, but has said it would not send jets to Ukraine, as it is not a direct party to the conflict between Ukraine - which is not a NATO ally - and Russia.

Read more:

Poland ready to place all its MIG-29 jets at the disposal of the US for Ukraine

US ‘working actively’ on deal for Polish fighter jets to Ukraine

UK says it will support Poland if it decides to send fighter jets to Ukraine

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