The Pentagon dismissed Poland’s proposal to transfer their MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States for delivery to Ukraine, calling it not “tenable,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.
The Pentagon is in touch with the Polish government about the issue, but Poland’s proposal shows the “complexities” of transferring the fighters to Ukraine, Kirby said in the statement.
"It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” Kirby said. “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.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Polish government proposed moving all of their MiG-29s to the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany, according to a statement from the foreign ministry. The US government would then provide them to Ukraine, the ministry said. In exchange, Poland requested used fighter jets to replace the MiG-29s.
Kirby said the idea as laid out by Poland was too risky, as the US and NATO seek to avoid an outright conflict between the alliance and Russia.
Multiple sources tell CNN that the Biden administration was completely caught off guard by the Polish offer to provide the US with the fleet of used MiG-29 fighter jets.
The Polish offer had not been discussed with the US before making it public and Polish officials did not bring it up with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when he was recently in Poland, either.
US officials have privately weighed sending aircraft to Ukraine but have repeatedly noted the difficult logistical challenges that doing so would come with.
More background: Poland’s surprise announcement complicates what had already been a high-stakes visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris.
Harris had been expected to discuss the fighter jet issue while in Poland, according to officials. The White House had previously said it was in discussions with the Polish government about a plan for Poland to supply Ukraine with its Soviet-era fighter jets and the US to backfill the planes with F-16s.
Harris is still scheduled to depart Wednesday morning for Poland, but now there are intensive conversations within the administration about how to work with Poland to come to some sort of agreement that allows the jets to reach Ukraine.