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poland: Kamala Harris goes to Poland as US-NATO remain tentative on military supplies to Ukraine – Times of India



WASHINGTON: American vice-president Kamala Harris flew out to Warsaw on Wednesday amid an embarrassing diplomatic dogfight that saw Poland and the United States hide behind each other in the western effort to support Ukraine without attracting a direct firefight with Russia.
At the heart of the diplomatic scuffle is American efforts to get Poland, a former Warsaw Pact-turned-NATO member, give its Soviet era MIG-29 aircraft to Ukraine, to compensate which Washington promised US fighter jets to Warsaw. Concerned that such a move will attract Moscow’s wrath, Poland turned the tables on US on Tuesday and said, effectively, “we’ll give you the planes and YOU arrange to give it to Ukraine.”
“The authorities of the Republic of Poland, after consultations between the President and the Government, are ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MIG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base (a US base in Germany) and place them at the disposal of the United States of America,” the Polish government said in a statement, suggesting other NATO Allies that own MIG-29 jets should also act in the same vein.
“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,” the statement, unusually blunt and public for a military issue in time of war, added.
Washington quickly shot down the idea of a direct hand in the deal for the same reason Poland was leery of the proposal — inviting a firefight with Russia, which has warned against any such supplies. The Kremlin on Wednesday said that any such deal could lead to a “highly undesirable and a potentially dangerous scenario.”
The diplomatic hide and seek is being played out in full public glare even as Ukraine’s beleaguered leadership is pleading for a NATO no-fly zone, fighter jets, and other arms and military hardware that can foil and reverse the Russian invasion. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s embattled President Voldymyr Zelensky raged about the US-Poland gamesmanship, saying, “Listen! We have a war! We do not have time for all these signals. This is not ping pong! This is about human lives! We ask once again: solve it faster.”
Efforts to establish arms supply to Ukraine has a key topic of Kamala Harris’ agenda during her visit to Poland and Romania this week, even as the US Congress opened the money spigot on Wednesday by proposing nearly $ 14 billion in new humanitarian, military and economic assistance for Kyiv. The high-profile troubleshooting assignment — originally described as a fact-finding mission — could make or break the vice-president’s political future at home, where the right wing is mocking her saying nothing good can come from the visit because of her inexperience.
Harris is expected to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (who is also visiting Poland), and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis during her visit, her second to Europe in the past month. She is also expected meet with Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

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