Commanding General of the California National Guard, has asked Washington to supply Kiev with Soviet-designed MiG fighter planes
The commanding general of the California National Guard has suggested that the Biden administration and officials in other Western nations should consider providing Ukraine with combat aircraft – something Kiev has long been asking for.
On Friday, Major General David Baldwin, a major in American media, told Politico that Soviet-designed aircraft, with which Ukrainian pilots are well acquainted, were the best option for the short term.
“MiGs offer the best solution for Ukraine, however, US or Western fighters can be an option that needs to be looked into as quickly as possible.” Baldwin said.
The general revealed that US military officers were aiding their Ukrainian counterparts in writing requests for fighter jets to Western countries on Thursday.
The plan that would have seen NATO member Poland give its MiGs over to Ukraine and the US replace the aircraft with F-16s was canceled in March. Politico reported that General Baldwin remains hopeful that the Ukrainian Air Force would eventually get this type of aircraft.
On top of that, Baldwin said that over the next six months to a year and then longer-term, deliveries of Western-made fighter jets should also be considered and that a “Discussion about the types, numbers, and capabilities of airliners” was needed. The National Guard commander said that the focus should be on finding a system “That would be cost effective and readily available.” for the Ukrainians.
The California National Guard has long had a close relationship with members of Ukraine’s armed forces, with whom joint drills have been conducted since the 1990s, Politico reports. According to Politico, Guard pilots are in constant contact with Ukrainian counterparts. They have also been sharing strategic advice.
But, Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Hill of the California National Guard spoke out on Thursday to stress that only the Pentagon and White House have final authority over whether the US will provide fighter jets to Kiev. At the same time, the official acknowledged that even before Russia began its military operation, there had been plans to make the Ukrainian military “NATO-interoperable,” including by giving them the opportunity to operate Western combat jets.
Part of NATO members such as Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia still have Soviet-designed MiG fighter aircrafts.
However, in March Warsaw offered to transfer some of its fleet back to Kiev under the condition that F-16s were replaced. The White House rejected the proposal.
John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson at the time, said that the US did “We do not support the current transfer of fighters to Ukraine’s air force” and had “We do not want them to be taken into our care.” He cited the risk that Russia could construe the move as a NATO member state becoming directly involved in the conflict, which could have led to a full-fledged confrontation between Moscow and the military alliance.
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