The Pentagon is considering providing Ukrainian forces with fighter jets, the White House said Friday, marking what would be a significant expansion of U.S. involvement in the war and carrying with it a risk of more direct confrontation with Moscow.
The Pentagon “is making some preliminary explorations into the feasibility of potentially providing fighter aircraft to the Ukrainians,” said John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications. “But it’s not something that they’re going to be able to execute immediately or even in the short term.”
The comments from a senior White House national security spokesman are the latest sign of the Biden administration’s growing assertiveness on arms for Kyiv and suggest an increasing willingness to provide advanced weaponry in an effort to help turn the tide of the war.
In March, after Poland proposed transferring MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine, the Pentagon rejected the offer, calling it “high risk.” The U.S. intelligence community assessed that transferring the Russian-made aircraft would risk a response from Moscow that could result in a direct military conflict with NATO.
That assessment, however, only applied to the Russian aircraft, and it appears that the administration believes that western-made fighters may not pose the same risk.
Among the issues that must be addressed before the U.S. could give Ukraine jets is training, maintenance and providing spare parts, Mr. Kirby told reporters during a briefing. He didn’t say what kind of aircraft the U.S. was considering or when the administration would make a decision. [Continue reading…]