Poland said on Tuesday that it was ready to deploy — immediately and free of charge — all their MiG-29 fighter jets to the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany and place them at the disposal of Washington to provide them to Ukraine, according to a statement from the Polish foreign ministry.
“At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes,” it added.
The Polish government in the statement urged “other NATO Allies — owners of MIG-29 jets — to act in the same vein.”
A top State Department official said Tuesday that Poland did not consult with the United States prior to issuing its statement about readiness to transfer jets to the US in Germany.
“I saw that announcement by the government of Poland as I was literally driving here today,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
“So to my knowledge, it wasn’t pre-consulted with us that they plan to give these planes to us,” she said.
“I look forward when this hearing is over to getting back to my desk and seeing how we will respond to this proposal of theirs to give the planes to us,” she said, noting that the US and Poland have been in consultations for a couple of days on this topic.
A senior US defense official, meanwhile, told CNN that they’ve seen the Polish government’s announcement and “have nothing to offer at this time.”
More background: It remains unclear where the US will pull the F-16s from in order to possibly send them to Poland or other Eastern European countries in the near term. But members of Congress are supportive of the effort. Sen. Ben Cardin asked Nuland for the Biden administration to notify them if there were going to be any delays to getting these F-16s to Poland.
Still, the complicated logistics behind the idea that both US and Polish officials have now discussed have yet been determined, two European diplomats told CNN.
The Polish announcement comes after some Polish officials were frustrated by how forward leaning the US was on this subject over the weekend, the sources 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’re handing over to the Ukrainians? We’re in very active discussions with them about that,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said over on CBS on Sunday.
The Poles believe that the visit Vice President Harris is making to Poland in the coming days would be a good time for the US to announce more details but did not know if that was going to happen or not, a Polish official said.
Other countries that are in talks with the US about also partaking in a similar are conducting the conversations quietly, without raising expectations, said a central European diplomat.
CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed reporting to this post.
Poland says it’s ready to deploy all their MiG-29 fighter jets to US air base in Germany