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Grant Shapps today warned that Nato must be ‘careful and cautious’ about getting involved in Ukraine after the US blocked Poland‘s plan to hand Ukraine fighter jets.

The Transport Secretary stressed that the UK had ‘nothing to do’ with Warsaw’s suggestion of giving all its MiG-29 fighter jets to American forces so they can be transferred to Kyiv.

But he warned that Nato’s support must be ‘defensive’ and not ‘escalate this war’, seemingly endorsing the Pentagon’s view that the proposal is ‘untenable’.    

Ukraine war: The latest 

  • US intelligence chiefs say they fear Putin is angry and frustrated and may resort to using small tactical nuclear weapons to force Ukraine into submission
  • They said it remains unclear whether Putin has decided to take Ukraine whatever the cost, or whether there remains capacity for a ceasefire
  • McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Pepsi became the latest companies to pull out of Russia 
  • Russia refloats plans to open humanitarian corridors. Kyiv calls the proposal a publicity stunt
  • Ukrainian servicemen and fleeing residents describe ferocious fighting on Kyiv’s northwestern edge, including hand-to-hand combat
  • 18 people, including two children, died in an air strike on the city of Sumy 
  • Russia steps up its shelling of Gostomel near Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, Sumy in the northeast, Chernihiv in the north and Mykolayiv in the southwest
  • Tens of thousands are still trapped without water or power in the southern port of Mariupol after two failed evacuation attempts
  • Nearly all of Russia’s 150,000 combat troops arrayed on Ukraine’s border have now entered the country
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency receives reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city Kharkiv
  • White House says there is no agreement with European allies on a blanket ban on oil and gas imports
  • The World Bank approves an additional $489million package for Ukraine, made available immediately
  • Russia says it will allow Russian companies and individuals to repay debts to creditors in ‘hostile’ nations in rubles
  • US-based Morgan Stanley says a Russian default on sovereign debts will come as soon as next month
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says once more he is not sending conscripts or reservists to fight
  • Kyiv’s presidential advisor says talks with Russia brought some ‘positive results’, while Moscow’s lead negotiator said aims were ‘not fulfilled’ 
  • Turkey announces it will host Russia’s and Ukraine’s foreign ministers for talks on Thursday.
  • Foreign footballers and coaches working in Russia and Ukraine will be allowed to temporarily suspend their contracts and move elsewhere, FIFA announces 
  • The UN says 2 million people have fled Ukraine, making it the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II
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The idea of supplying fighter jets has been floating around for more than a week after Ukraine pleaded for more help, but questions have been raised over how it can be done without dragging NATO into the conflict. 

Poland had suggested that the MiGs could be moved to the huge US Ramstein base in Germany, before being handed to Ukraine. 

But Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said last night night the deal would cause serious concerns for the ‘entire Nato alliance.’ 

‘It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,’ Mr Kirby said. 

In a round of interview this morning, Mr Shapps said: ‘It is important I think that we are a defensive organisation.

‘Which means we won’t be getting directly involved in the war.

As you rightly say the US has said that it won’t be taking those MIG jets, they don’t even fly MIG jets themselves, so that is not something that is going to develop.

‘But make no mistake we are providing huge amounts of aid and support. The UK was the first country to provide antitank weaponry before this war broke out, before Ukraine was attacked, as well as training 22,000 Ukrainian troops…

‘So we stand fully behind Ukraine… we are doing everything we possibly can to support our Ukrainian friends.’

Pressed on whether the UK backed the US position, Mr Shapps said the discussions were ‘nothing to do’ with Britain but underlined the need for Nato to be ‘careful and cautious’.

‘We’re not involved in this particular loan idea… we need to make sure that in our absolutely stringent support for Ukraine – who are not a NATO member of course – we are not inadvertently doing something which escalates this war in a way that would be unacceptable to the entire world,’ he added.

The UK is believed to have been supplying large quantities of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, with President Volodymyr Zelensky having given Boris Johnson a ‘shopping list’.

But Nato has flatly rejected pleas to enforce a no-fly zone, warning it could cause a world war. 

Mr Kirby said overnight: ‘As we have said, the decision about whether to transfer Polish-owned planes to Ukraine is ultimately one for the Polish government. 

‘We will continue consulting with our Allies and partners about our ongoing security assistance to Ukraine, because, in fact, Poland’s proposal shows just some of the complexities this issue presents. 

‘The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a US/Nato base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire Nato alliance’, he added.

‘It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.’

Poland’s announcement was seen as an effort to force the US and Nato to go further in backing the Ukrainian fight.

There were suggestions Nato electronics would need to be removed if adopted by the Ukrainian Air Force. Russia could have responded if Ukrainian pilots flew them in from a foreign airfield. 

Poland is believed to have 28 MiG-29s (file picture) - a Soviet-era fighter flown by the Ukrainian air force - although not all are airworthy

Poland is believed to have 28 MiG-29s (file picture) - a Soviet-era fighter flown by the Ukrainian air force - although not all are airworthy

Poland is believed to have 28 MiG-29s (file picture) – a Soviet-era fighter flown by the Ukrainian air force – although not all are airworthy

Grant Shapps stressed that the UK had 'nothing to do' with Warsaw's suggestion of giving all its MiG-29 fighter jets to American forces so they can be transferred to Kyiv.

Grant Shapps stressed that the UK had 'nothing to do' with Warsaw's suggestion of giving all its MiG-29 fighter jets to American forces so they can be transferred to Kyiv.

Grant Shapps stressed that the UK had ‘nothing to do’ with Warsaw’s suggestion of giving all its MiG-29 fighter jets to American forces so they can be transferred to Kyiv.

A woman carries a dog to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv

A woman carries a dog to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv

A woman carries a dog to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv

If American or Polish pilots delivered them, it could have been interpreted as Nato forces operating inside Ukraine. 

Poland is believed to have 28 MiG-29s – a Soviet-era fighter flown by the Ukrainian air force – although not all are airworthy. 

Unveiling their proposal, the Polish government said: ‘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 and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States of America.’ 

‘At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities,’ it said in their statement released earlier on Tuesday.

US officials were considering a proposal to send F-16s to Poland to ‘backfill’ its air force, replacing the MiGs, but have also suggested caution is in order. The Polish announcement appeared to take them unawares. 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will meet officials in Washington to discuss further support for Ukraine later.

Ms Truss will meet US counterpart Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan to consider what more the two countries can do to support Ukraine on security, intelligence and humanitarian issues.

Mr Zelensky welcomed the announcement co-ordinated between the US and the UK to stop buying Russian oil and gas, saying it sent a ‘powerful signal’ to the world.

He earlier received standing ovations during a virtual speech to the House of Commons, during which he called for the UK to ‘make sure that our Ukrainian skies are safe’.

The historic address came shortly after ministers announced the UK will phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of the year.

In his daily address to Ukraine, Mr Zelensky went on to say: ‘This is a powerful signal to the whole world.

‘Either Russia will respect international law and not wage wars, or it will have no money.’

However, in a move likely to draw criticism from climate campaigners, ministers were considering steps that could lead to a fracking rethink in the UK.

Amid concerns over soaring energy costs, it was understood two Cuadrilla sites in Lancashire may be handed over to the Royal Geographical Society rather than being concreted over.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been under a moratorium for more than two years but the move could allow the sites to be opened up at a later date.

US President Joe Biden ordered a ban on Russian oil imports, while the European Union was also expected to announce a phasing out of dependence on Moscow’s energy.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng urged businesses to ‘use this year to ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected’, with 8% of UK oil supply coming from Russia.

The UK was also tightening aviation sanctions to make it a criminal offence for Russian planes to enter UK air space.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told airports he can order them to detain Russian aircraft and has the power to order the Civil Aviation Authority to terminate the registration of planes owned by sanctioned individuals.

The ownership of one plane at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire was understood to be under investigation.

In his Commons speech, Mr Zelensky evoked an inspiring wartime speech from Sir Winston Churchill as he made a comparison to the situation Britain faced during the Second World War.

‘We will fight until the end, at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost,’ the Ukrainian leader said.

‘We will fight in the forest, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.’

Air sirens sounded in and around Kyiv early this morning, directing residents to enter bomb shelters immediately.

The Ministry of Defence said its latest intelligence suggested Ukrainian cities were continuing to suffer heavy shelling but Vladimir Putin’s assault on capital Kyiv had failed to make major progress.

‘The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain encircled by Russian forces and continue to suffer heavy Russian shelling,’ the MoD said.

‘Ukrainian air defences appear to have enjoyed considerable success against Russia’s modern combat aircraft, probably preventing them achieving any degree of control of the air.’

The US is now sending two Patriot missile batteries to Poland as a ‘defensive deployment’.

Patriots are air defense missile systems designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles. 

Capt. Adam Miller, spokesman for EUCOM said in a statement: ‘At the direction of the Secretary of Defense and at the invitation of our Polish allies, General Wolters, Commander, of US European Command has directed US Army Europe and Africa to reposition two Patriot Batteries to Poland.

‘This is a prudent force protection measure that underpins our commitment to Article Five and will in no way support any offensive operations. 

‘Every step we take is intended to deter aggression and reassure our allies.’ 

Article Five is the section of the NATO agreement which states that if one NATO member is attacked, all must come to their aid. 

A Patriot anti-missile defense launcher is seen in Poland on Tuesday. The United States said on Tuesday night they were sending two more to Poland, to help protect their fellow NATO-member

A Patriot anti-missile defense launcher is seen in Poland on Tuesday. The United States said on Tuesday night they were sending two more to Poland, to help protect their fellow NATO-member

A Patriot anti-missile defense launcher is seen in Poland on Tuesday. The United States said on Tuesday night they were sending two more to Poland, to help protect their fellow NATO-member

Joe Biden is seen on Tuesday arriving back at the White House after a trip to Fort Worth, Texas

Joe Biden is seen on Tuesday arriving back at the White House after a trip to Fort Worth, Texas

Joe Biden is seen on Tuesday arriving back at the White House after a trip to Fort Worth, Texas

Source: Daily Mail

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