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cordial disagreement between Poland and the United States over the delivery of aircraft to Kiev

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How to help Ukraine to defend itself, without getting involved in the conflict? Since the start of the Russian attack, this question has agitated European capitals and, more broadly, NATO countries.

→ EXPLANATION. War in Ukraine: who are these countries that deliver arms to Kiev?

Many decisions have already been made, and material has reached Kiev. A special effort has been made by the United States: according to the New York Times17,000 anti-tank weapons were delivered to the Ukrainian army in six days, a logistical feat.

The air sector, a weak link in Ukrainian defense

But the weak link in Ukrainian defense remains the air force. Hence the idea put forward by certain Western leaders, and in particular the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, of equipping Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops with hunters. With a technical requirement: it must be devices used by Ukrainian pilots – of the Mig-29 or Sukhoi-27 types, of Russian design.

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Only three European countries have it: Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia. If the last two have declined, Poland has declared itself open to the delivery of aircraft to Kiev, subject to the replacement of these planes by American F-16s. On Sunday March 6, the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, confirmed that an agreement to this effect was under discussion with Warsaw.

Do not rob Moscow

But Warsaw offered another option two days later: “The authorities of the Republic of Poland are ready to move all its Mig-29 aircraft to the Ramstein base without delay and free of charge” in Germany “and to make them available to the Government of the United States”said the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For Poland, this solution has the obvious advantage of not antagonizing Moscow. But Washington, which has made no secret of its « surprised», rejected her. Especially since the American base at Ramstein is also central to the NATO system. The Polish scenario could be considered by Moscow as the sign of a direct involvement of the Atlantic Alliance. For the White House, delivering planes to Ukraine must be the decision of a sovereign state – not NATO.

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Discussions will continue in Warsaw, where US Vice President Kamala Harris is due to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki this Thursday, March 10.

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Decisive European arms deliveries

► Anti-tank weapons: Sweden (5,000 rocket launchers), Denmark (2,700), Germany (1,000),
Belgium (200), Spain (1,370 grenade launchers), Finland (1,500 guns), Luxembourg (100 weapons), Czech Republic (4,000 shells), Netherlands (400 missiles, 50 missile launchers).

► Missiles: Germany (500 surface-to-air Stinger), Netherlands (200 Stinger), Greece (missile launchers), Italy (Spike and Stinger missiles), Slovakia (air defense missiles and 100 air defense launchers).

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