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The Pentagon stated bluntly Wednesday that a much-touted plan to have Poland deliver MiG fighter aircraft to Ukraine was off the table – after highlighting intelligence concerns that it could be ‘escalatory’ with nuclear Russia.

Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby made the statement Wednesday even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued to press the U.S. to allow for the release of fighter jets to combat the ongoing Russian onslaught.

He cited multiple factors, including an analysis by intelligence experts that it could ‘result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO.’

Kirby was even more definitive than Tuesday, when he called the latest iteration of a plan not ‘tenable.’ That came after Poland’s foreign minister caught the U.S. off guard by commenting on a plan to send fighters to the U.S. Ramstein air base in German, with the lost forces to be back-filled by U.S.-made fighter jets.   

Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks from Air Force Two upon arrival at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, as she travels on a 3-day trip to Poland and Romania for meetings about the war in Ukraine. She landed as the Pentagon said a plan to transfer Polish jets to Ukraine was off

Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks from Air Force Two upon arrival at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, as she travels on a 3-day trip to Poland and Romania for meetings about the war in Ukraine. She landed as the Pentagon said a plan to transfer Polish jets to Ukraine was off

Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks from Air Force Two upon arrival at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, as she travels on a 3-day trip to Poland and Romania for meetings about the war in Ukraine. She landed as the Pentagon said a plan to transfer Polish jets to Ukraine was off

Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby said a move to have Poland transfer fighter jets to the U.S. for eventual transfer to Ukraine would not go forward. He cited intelligence assessments it could 'result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO'

Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby said a move to have Poland transfer fighter jets to the U.S. for eventual transfer to Ukraine would not go forward. He cited intelligence assessments it could 'result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO'

Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby said a move to have Poland transfer fighter jets to the U.S. for eventual transfer to Ukraine would not go forward. He cited intelligence assessments it could ‘result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO’

‘We take seriously the intelligence community’s assessments and their views based on the information that that they have available to them,’ Kirby said at the Pentagon. ‘And it’s their assessment, one in which the [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd Austin] concurs that, that the transfer of combat aircraft right now could be mistaken by Mr. Putin and the Russians as an escalatory step and as I said, at the very end of my opening statement, we need to be careful about every decision we make, that we aren’t making the potential for escalation worse,’ he said. 

‘Because that’s not only not good for NATO, and it’s not only not good for the United States and our national security, should this conflict escalate even further – but it’s certainly not going to be good for the Ukrainian people to have what is already a destructive and terrible war get even more destructive and terrible, given the fact that Mr. Putin has other capabilities at his disposal.’

Kirby said Austin thanked NATO-ally Poland’s defense minister for looking for ways to assist Ukraine, with which it shares a border. 

‘But he stressed that we do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time, and therefore have no desire to see them in our custody, either,’ he said.

Kirby said the Ukrainians were already using anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons being provided by the U.S. and other nations ‘ with great effect’ that ‘slowed Russian advance in the north.’

He said the Ukrainian Air Force currently has several squadrons of ‘fully mission-capable aircraft,’ and that adding more ‘is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of Ukrainian Air Force relative to Russian capabilities.’

His comments came shortly after White House Press Secretary Jean Psaki stressed the ‘clearly logistical challenges’ with the effort.

She said the logistical questions were ‘how do you get planes into Ukraine in a way that is not escalatory? And what are the logistics and operational details of that?’

‘You have to ensure that there’s they can be safely moved through the course of a contested country or not – a country where there is a war going on with the with the Russians who implemented that war so there are a range of logistical operational challenges,’ she said. 

Pressed during the White House briefing by DailyMail.com on whether it was the arming of Ukrainians with fighter jets that was not tenable, Psaki cited DOD’s concerns. 

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) mocked resistance to a plan to provide Polish-owned MiG fighters to Ukraine

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) mocked resistance to a plan to provide Polish-owned MiG fighters to Ukraine

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) mocked resistance to a plan to provide Polish-owned MiG fighters to Ukraine

‘We have not held back on providing weapons, anti-missile systems, tank systems at all at any point in this process. But there are important operational logistics concerns here and steps, conversations that should happen between military experts and that’s exactly what’s happening,’ she said.  

Asked if there a breakdown in communication with the Poles, Psaki said: ‘I wouldn’t call it a breakdown, and I guess it’s a temporary breakdown in communication.’

The administration’s stance is already getting pushback in Congress. 

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.) tweeted: ‘The U.S. has provided numerous weapons to Ukraine: Javelins, Stingers M500 shotguns, MK 19 grenade launchers, M141 rocket launchers, Helicopters. And now you’re getting cold feet and stopping at outdated Soviet jets? Are you frickin’ kidding me?’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the U.S. and Poland of playing games with people’s lives after the Pentagon poured cold water on a plan to get fighter jets to Ukraine and as Vice President Kamala Harris left for a trip to Eastern Europe on the 14th day of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Zelensky told D.C. and Warsaw to stop their ‘ping pong’ and hand over the MIG-29 combat planes to bolster Ukrainian firepower against Russian troops as they continued their relentless shelling campaign in cities across the country.

Meanwhile, Harris left on a Air Force Two bound for Poland on Wednesday morning after Zelensky’s appeal to the Biden administration and as Putin’s forces reached new lows by bombing a maternity hospital in Mariupol where 3,000 babies are believed to be without food or medicine.

In a Wednesday speech, Zelensky said: ‘There is an official decision of Poland to transfer the planes to the relevant base – the American base. We also have confirmation – we have all heard – that the agreement between the American party and Poland has been reached.’

‘But at the same time, we hear that Poland’s proposal is allegedly unfounded,’ he continued. ‘And that’s what they say in Washington. We also read this. So when will the decision be made?’

‘Listen,’ the Ukrainian leader pleaded, ‘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.’

‘Do not shift the responsibility. Send us planes,’ Zelensky demanded.

Also on Wednesday, Zelensky shared a video of destruction at a maternity hospital as buildings are turned to rubble in Mariupol, Ukraine as Russia continues its assault on the country.

‘Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity!’ Zelensky tweeted.

‘How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?’ he questioned in a tweet. ‘Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.’

To further complicate the matter in Eastern Europe, Ukraine warned that Chernobyl could be 48 hours away from leaking radiation, and demanded Russia observe an urgent ceasefire to allow for repairs to be made.

The country’s nuclear company Energoatom said earlier that radioactive substances could be released if an electricity outage at the site continues any longer, as it makes it impossible to cool spent nuclear fuel.

Russian forces captured Chernobyl and cut the power in the early days of the invasion last month making it impossible to make repairs at the plant.

The plant is currently running on emergency back-up generators that are powered by diesel.

Harris’ departure for Poland comes on some shaky terms with the defunct prospect of sending warplanes to Ukraine and after the U.S. and NATO shut down Kyiv’s plea to set up a no-fly zone above the country.

The trip is meant to serve as a fact finding mission to see how the U.S. can support Ukraine’s NATO-allied neighboring nations, according to senior administration officials.

It also comes as Congress has also reached a deal to send $13.6 billion to Ukraine and Harris will reiterate U.S. support for the former Soviet-bloc country. 

Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the Warsaw East train station in Poland on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as Vice President Kamala Harris departs for a three-day trip to Eastern Europe, including Poland and Romania

Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the Warsaw East train station in Poland on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as Vice President Kamala Harris departs for a three-day trip to Eastern Europe, including Poland and Romania

Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the Warsaw East train station in Poland on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as Vice President Kamala Harris departs for a three-day trip to Eastern Europe, including Poland and Romania

Vice President Kamala Harris departed a rainy Washington, D.C. on the morning of Wednesday March 9, 20222 for her first stop in Warsaw, Poland on her three-day European trip

Vice President Kamala Harris departed a rainy Washington, D.C. on the morning of Wednesday March 9, 20222 for her first stop in Warsaw, Poland on her three-day European trip

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded in a Wednesday speech. '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. Do not shift the responsibility. Send us planes'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded in a Wednesday speech. '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. Do not shift the responsibility. Send us planes'

Harris departed a rainy Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning for her first stop on her European trip in Warsaw, Poland. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) said in a speech: ‘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. Do not shift the responsibility. Send us planes’

Zelensky shared a video on Twitter Wednesday from a maternity hospital that was destroyed by a Russian attack. He said women and children are now buried in the rubble 

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol's maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol's maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol’s maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

Ukrainian refugees gather in a crowded room with toys for children at the Warszawa Wschodnia (Warsaw East) train station on Wednesday. About 200,000 Ukrainian war refugees have reached Warsaw since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24

Ukrainian refugees gather in a crowded room with toys for children at the Warszawa Wschodnia (Warsaw East) train station on Wednesday. About 200,000 Ukrainian war refugees have reached Warsaw since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24

Ukrainian refugees gather in a crowded room with toys for children at the Warszawa Wschodnia (Warsaw East) train station on Wednesday. About 200,000 Ukrainian war refugees have reached Warsaw since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24

Harris' trip includes a stop in Romania and Poland, both NATO allied counties bordering Ukraine where U.S. troops are stationed in response to Russia's invasion. Pictured: Harris arrives Wednesday, March 9, 2022 to Board Air Force Two wearing a mask, which she took off for the rainy walk from her car to the plane

Harris' trip includes a stop in Romania and Poland, both NATO allied counties bordering Ukraine where U.S. troops are stationed in response to Russia's invasion. Pictured: Harris arrives Wednesday, March 9, 2022 to Board Air Force Two wearing a mask, which she took off for the rainy walk from her car to the plane

Harris’ trip includes a stop in Romania and Poland, both NATO allied counties bordering Ukraine where U.S. troops are stationed in response to Russia’s invasion. Pictured: Harris arrives Wednesday, March 9, 2022 to Board Air Force Two wearing a mask, which she took off for the rainy walk from her car to the plane

The trip comes just hours after the Pentagon poured cold water on a deal with Poland to get fighter jets to Ukraine. Pictured: A woman is evacuated in Irpin, Ukraine on Wednesday, March 9 as Russia continued its invasion

The trip comes just hours after the Pentagon poured cold water on a deal with Poland to get fighter jets to Ukraine. Pictured: A woman is evacuated in Irpin, Ukraine on Wednesday, March 9 as Russia continued its invasion

The trip comes just hours after the Pentagon poured cold water on a deal with Poland to get fighter jets to Ukraine. Pictured: A woman is evacuated in Irpin, Ukraine on Wednesday, March 9 as Russia continued its invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Washington and Warsaw to stop the 'ping pong' and send war planes to Ukraine – as well as help the country establish a no-fly zone. A Ukrainian soldier on a tank on Wednesday in Kyiv, Ukraine as soldiers and volunteers have been preparing for street battles by digging trenches and building concrete barriers at the city's limits

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Washington and Warsaw to stop the 'ping pong' and send war planes to Ukraine – as well as help the country establish a no-fly zone. A Ukrainian soldier on a tank on Wednesday in Kyiv, Ukraine as soldiers and volunteers have been preparing for street battles by digging trenches and building concrete barriers at the city's limits

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Washington and Warsaw to stop the ‘ping pong’ and send war planes to Ukraine – as well as help the country establish a no-fly zone. A Ukrainian soldier on a tank on Wednesday in Kyiv, Ukraine as soldiers and volunteers have been preparing for street battles by digging trenches and building concrete barriers at the city’s limits

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 vice president will warn during her trip that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ‘made a mistake’ that will result in a ‘resounding strategic defeat’ for Moscow.

Her three-day stint will include a stop in Romania, another NATO country where U.S. troops are stationed and stand ready to defend should Russia move further than Ukraine’s borders. 

Harris visit is complicated by the Pentagon hours before her arrival when pouring cold water on Poland’s offer to hand all its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S., apparently as part of an arrangement to deliver the warplanes to Ukraine ‘s armed forces where they are desperately needed to fight off invading Russian forces.

The idea has been floating around for more than a week after Ukraine pleaded for more aircraft, but the plan has been dogged by questions about how to deliver the planes to Ukrainian territory without dragging NATO into the conflict. 

Zelensky in a Wednesday speech demanded the no-fly zone’s creation and demanded the U.S. stop going playing games and immediately help get war planes to Ukraine.

‘From the first day of the Russian invasion, Ukraine has been repeating to its partners that if you do not close the sky, you will also be responsible for this catastrophe, a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe,’ Zelensky said. ‘Russia uses missiles, aircraft, helicopters against us, against civilians, against our cities, against our infrastructure.’ 

The U.S. is sending patriot missiles to Poland to ramp up their protection against possible attack, it was confirmed on Tuesday. 

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday night, however, that the proposed deal for a war plane transfer from Poland to Ukraine was unworkable and would cause serious concerns for the ‘entire NATO alliance.’ 

The U.S. is now sending two Patriot missile batteries to Poland as a ‘defensive deployment,’ a spokesman for U.S. European Command (EUCOM) said on Tuesday night.

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.

The situation around Kyiv, meanwhile, was deteriorating, with reports of hand-to-hand combat in Irpin, 20 miles northwest of the capital.

‘There is real street fighting now,’ said Stas, a Ukrainian paratrooper lieutenant. 

‘In some places, there is hand-to-hand combat,’ he told AFP.

‘There is a huge column – 200 men, 50 light armored vehicles, several tanks,’ he said of the Russian threat. 

‘We are trying to push them out, but I don’t know if we’ll be fully able to do it. The situation is very unstable.’ 

On Sunday, Tatiana Perebeynos, 43, her two children, Alise, 9, and Nikita, 18, and a man they were traveling with were killed when Russian forces indiscriminately fired on the town. The shocking images were captured by a New York Times team on the scene.

As Ukrainians battled to defend their homeland, the outside world was debating how best to support them – without getting sucked into a global conflict. 

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A baby is evacuated from Irpin, Ukraine on Wednesday as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross Irpin River as Russia's invasion on Ukraine continues

A baby is evacuated from Irpin, Ukraine on Wednesday as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross Irpin River as Russia's invasion on Ukraine continues

A baby is evacuated from Irpin, Ukraine on Wednesday as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross Irpin River as Russia’s invasion on Ukraine continues

People flee across a destroyed bridge in Irpin, Ukraine just outside of Kyiv on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 – the 14th day of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion

People flee across a destroyed bridge in Irpin, Ukraine just outside of Kyiv on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 – the 14th day of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion

People flee across a destroyed bridge in Irpin, Ukraine just outside of Kyiv on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 – the 14th day of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion

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

An Italian military plane is seen landing beside a Patriot missile launcher at the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division airfield near Rzeszow, Poland, on Tuesday.

An Italian military plane is seen landing beside a Patriot missile launcher at the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division airfield near Rzeszow, Poland, on Tuesday.

An Italian military plane is seen landing beside a Patriot missile launcher at the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division airfield near Rzeszow, Poland, on Tuesday.

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

Explaining why the U.S. turned down Poland’s plan of giving its planes to the U.S., for distribution to Ukraine, Kirby said: ‘We are now in contact with the Polish government following the statement issued today. 

‘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 U.S./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.’

Tuesday’s announcement was seen as a Polish effort to force the US and NATO to go further in backing the Ukrainian fight amid mounting concerns over whether it would be seen as an escalation by Vladimir Putin.

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. If American or Polish pilots dropped them in, it could be interpreted as NATO forces operating inside 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 and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States of America,’ said the Polish foreign ministry. 

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

‘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.

Victoria Nuland, State Department undersecretary, was asked about the decision when she appeared before a Senate committee to discuss Ukraine. 

‘I was in a meeting where I ought to have about that before I came so I think that actually was a surprise move by the Poles,’ she said. Sources familiar with the issue said the problem was how to deliver the planes to Ukraine.

Russia has made clear that it will consider any use by Ukraine of neighboring country’s territory as a ‘casus belli,’ or justification for attack. That means Ukrainian pilots taking off from Poland or Germany in the MiGs would cross a Russian red line. Asking Polish pilots to fly them in would also be viewed by Russia as NATO entering the conflict.

The move came with Kremlin officials ‘privately denouncing’ Putin’s ‘clusterf**k’ invasion as US officials warned that the isolated Russian despot could lash out in anger at Ukraine’s fierce resistance by using small nuclear weapons on some of its cities.

Russian journalist Farida Rustamova, who was well-connected in government circles before fleeing the country as the Kremlin launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent, has claimed that officials in Moscow never believed that Putin would go to war.

They are now allegedly making ‘apocalyptic’ forecasts about the weeks and months ahead as fighting grinds on and punitive sanctions bite.

The Pentagon has poured cold water on Poland's offer to hand all its MiG-29 fighter jets to the US, apparently as part of an arrangement to deliver the warplanes to Ukraine 's armed forces where they are desperately needed to fight off invading Russian forces

The Pentagon has poured cold water on Poland's offer to hand all its MiG-29 fighter jets to the US, apparently as part of an arrangement to deliver the warplanes to Ukraine 's armed forces where they are desperately needed to fight off invading Russian forces

The Pentagon has poured cold water on Poland’s offer to hand all its MiG-29 fighter jets to the US, apparently as part of an arrangement to deliver the warplanes to Ukraine ‘s armed forces where they are desperately needed to fight off invading Russian forces 

Poland said it was ready to deploy 'immediately and free of charge' all its MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the 'disposal of the Government of the United States of America'

Poland said it was ready to deploy 'immediately and free of charge' all its MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the 'disposal of the Government of the United States of America'

Poland said it was ready to deploy ‘immediately and free of charge’ all its MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the ‘disposal of the Government of the United States of America’

President Joe Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas on Tuesday, but Washington now faces tough decisions about what to do with Poland's offer of MiG fighters for Ukraine

President Joe Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas on Tuesday, but Washington now faces tough decisions about what to do with Poland's offer of MiG fighters for Ukraine

President Joe Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas on Tuesday, but Washington now faces tough decisions about what to do with Poland’s offer of MiG fighters for Ukraine

Ukrainian artillery targeting Russian military trucks in Kozarovychi in the Kyiv Oblast

Ukrainian artillery targeting Russian military trucks in Kozarovychi in the Kyiv Oblast

Ukrainian artillery targeting Russian military trucks in Kozarovychi in the Kyiv Oblast

A Ukrainian tank rolls along a main road in Kyiv on Tuesday. Russia's main invasion column remains stalled outside the capital

A Ukrainian tank rolls along a main road in Kyiv on Tuesday. Russia's main invasion column remains stalled outside the capital

A Ukrainian tank rolls along a main road in Kyiv on Tuesday. Russia’s main invasion column remains stalled outside the capital

Pictured: Destroyed Russian tanks in the Sumy region of Ukraine on Monday, March 7

Pictured: Destroyed Russian tanks in the Sumy region of Ukraine on Monday, March 7

Pictured: Destroyed Russian tanks in the Sumy region of Ukraine on Monday, March 7

A Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum multirole fighter jet with the Polish Air Force

A Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum multirole fighter jet with the Polish Air Force

A Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum multirole fighter jet with the Polish Air Force

Pictured: Some of the military aircrafts at the US Air Base Ramstein, in Landstuhl, Germany, on February 25

Pictured: Some of the military aircrafts at the US Air Base Ramstein, in Landstuhl, Germany, on February 25

Pictured: Some of the military aircrafts at the US Air Base Ramstein, in Landstuhl, Germany, on February 25

MiG-29 fighter jets, the Soviet-era combat plans use to counter the U.S. 

The Mikoyan MiG-29 jet was designed in the Soviet Union in the 1980s to counter U.S. fighters such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.

They were built to travel at Mach 2+ speed, carry heavy armaments,  take off from short runways and have the capacity to go on long-range missions.

They are twin-engine jets that have been adopted by a number of former Soviet nations and Eastern  European countries.

 Bulgaria and Slovakia are other NATO members operating the plane type and have been urged to also offer up their fleets to Ukraine as Russia ramps up its bloody invasion.

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‘There were some logistical questions – important ones – that were still under discussion about where those planes would take off from and land,’ said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when she was asked about the deal on Tuesday.  

A day earlier, Kirby played down progress on any moves to supply planes.

‘I would just say again, we’re very early on in a discussion here about a possibility. It’s not even a done deal at this point,’ he said. 

And hopes that the MiGs would offer an immediate breakthrough were further scotched by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki who said that the delivery of offensive weapons would have to be taken by all of NATO. 

‘This is why we are ready to give all of our fleet of jet fighters to Ramstein, but we are not ready to make any moves on our own because, as I said, we are not party to this war,’ he said during a joint news conference with his Norwegian counterpart in Oslo.  

It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a ‘desperate plea’ for aircraft to fight Russian invaders during a video call on Saturday with U.S. legislators, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

‘These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer,’ he said in a statement. 

The Polish moves comes amid warnings by US intelligence chiefs that an angry and frustrated Putin could double down on his invasion despite setbacks. 

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier told Congress an estimated 2,000-4,000 Russian soldiers had been killed so far.

Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence, said Putin would not be deterred by the lack of progress being made by his forces and the level of Ukrainian resistance. 

‘We assess Putin feels aggrieved the west does not give him proper deference and perceives this as a war he cannot afford to lose,’ she told the House intelligence committee.

CIA director Bill Burns said he predicted ‘an ugly next few weeks’ as Putin escalated the war ‘with scant regard for civilian casualties.’ 

Meanwhile the US and allies continue to deliver military aid to Ukraine. It is arriving on flights to neighboring countries with as many as 17 planes a day unloading weapons and other equipment at one undisclosed location.   

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley visited the airfield to inspect the historic effort, CNN reported.  

Defense officials have said while Russia continues to fire long-range artillery at Ukrainian cities and make some territorial gains in its south, it has not yet attacked supply transfers.   

Armed Ukrainian servicemen stand guard next to Czech-supplied 'hedgehog' defenses in downtown Kyiv

Armed Ukrainian servicemen stand guard next to Czech-supplied 'hedgehog' defenses in downtown Kyiv

Armed Ukrainian servicemen stand guard next to Czech-supplied ‘hedgehog’ defenses in downtown Kyiv

Russian troops continue to try and surround Kyiv ahead of what is expected to be an attack on the city, with intense fighting reported in the north west including hand-to-hand combat with Russian forces

CIA Director Bill Burns says Putin planned to take Kyiv in TWO DAYS before invasion stalled

CIA Director Bill Burns appeared before Congress on Tuesday morning

CIA Director Bill Burns appeared before Congress on Tuesday morning

CIA Director Bill Burns appeared before Congress on Tuesday morning

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Tuesday revealed that Vladimir Putin planned to capture the Ukrainian capital Kyiv within two days and warned that a frustrated Russian president could be about to escalate attacks on civilians. 

‘You know, this is a matter of deep personal conviction for him,’ he told the House intelligence committee. 

‘He’s been stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition for many years.’ 

He said after two weeks of fighting, Russian forces had still not been able to encircle Kyiv, which Putin planned to capture in two days.

‘He’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties,’ said Burns.

‘But the challenge that he faces – and this is the biggest question that’s hung over our analysis of his planning for months now – … he has no sustainable political endgame in the face of what is going to continue to be fierce resistance from Ukrainians.’

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This includes providing 17,000 anti-tank missiles and an additional 2,000 anti-aircraft missiles – at a time when video on the ground has showed Russian trucks and armored vehicles stopped in their tracks, while Ukrainian forces report downing helicopters and other aircraft. 

The US says it has committed one billion dollars in the past year to shoring up Ukraine’s defenses and that most of the recently announced $350 million in aid has already arrived.

But the skies remain contested, according to a senior defense official who briefed reporters.  

Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin that the Russian leader would never be able to declare victory in Ukraine. 

In a White House speech, he promised to hunt down oligarchs’ assets, praised Ukrainian resistance and condemned the Russian leader for failing to allow ceasefires for humanitarian relief.

‘Putin seems determined to continue on his murderous path no matter the cost,’ he said.  

But as he tightened the economic noose on Moscow by banning imports of Russian oil and gas, Biden said Putin had miscalculated. 

‘He has already turned two million Ukrainians into refugees,’ he said. 

‘Russia may continue to grind out its advance at a horrible price, but this much is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin.

‘Putin may be able to take a city, but he’ll never be able to hold the country. 

‘And if we do not respond to Putin’s assault on global peace and stability today, the cost of freedom, and to the American people, will be even greater tomorrow.’ 

Russia’s main column of armor has been stalled outside Kyiv for days amid reports of poor morale, lack of supplies and technical problems. 

Captured soldiers have complained of a lack of food, fuel, and overall battle plan.

Although Russian forces have made gains elsewhere, it means Putin has failed in what US officials said was his plan to seize the capital within two days.

They say he miscalculated he strength of Ukrainian opposition and over-estimated the success of his efforts to protect his economy from sanctions.

Biden said: ‘We are enforcing the most significant package of economic sanctions in history, and it’s causing significant damage to Russia’s economy.’

And he promised not to cease efforts to make life difficult for the oligarchs around Putin. 

‘The US Department of Justice has assembled a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs and we’re joining with our European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments or private jets and all their ill begotten games to make sure that they share in the pain of Putin’s war 

‘Some of them are … I think I’ve read one was over 400 feet long. I mean, this is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Ukrainian solders from the 81st Separate Airmobile Brigade test fire anti-tank JAVELIN missiles recently provided by the US

Ukrainian solders from the 81st Separate Airmobile Brigade test fire anti-tank JAVELIN missiles recently provided by the US

Ukrainian solders from the 81st Separate Airmobile Brigade test fire anti-tank JAVELIN missiles recently provided by the US

A Ukrainian serviceman fires an NLAW anti-tank weapon during an exercise in the Joint Forces Operation, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 15

A Ukrainian serviceman fires an NLAW anti-tank weapon during an exercise in the Joint Forces Operation, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 15

A Ukrainian serviceman fires an NLAW anti-tank weapon during an exercise in the Joint Forces Operation, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 15

Ukrainian soldiers help an elderly woman to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv

Ukrainian soldiers help an elderly woman to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv

Ukrainian soldiers help an elderly woman to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv

Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, March 8, 2022

Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, March 8, 2022

Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, March 8, 2022

Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks as snow falls in Irpin, Ukraine, March 8, 2022

Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks as snow falls in Irpin, Ukraine, March 8, 2022

Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks as snow falls in Irpin, Ukraine, March 8, 2022

Kyiv claimed on Tuesday that 12,000 Russian troops have now died fighting in Ukraine, while 300 tanks have been destroyed along with more than 1,000 armored vehicles, 48 planes, 80 helicopters and three boats. Moscow has acknowledged taking losses but has not given a recent update. Ukraine’s losses are unknown.  

Strikes on civilian areas also continued Tuesday morning, with the city of Sumy – in the east – struck by bombs which the local mayor said killed 21 people including two children and left others wounded. Ukraine’s parliament published a photo of a bloodied infant they said was hurt in the attack.

Russia again offered to open up ‘humanitarian corridors’ today to allow civilians to flee bombarded cities – but the move was swiftly dismissed by Kyiv, with Zelensky accusing Moscow of ‘cynicism’, saying its troops have laid mines across the routes and blown up buses intended to be used as transports.

‘There was an agreement on humanitarian corridors. Did that work? Russian tanks worked in its place, Russian Grads (multiple rocket launchers), Russian mines,’ Zelensky said in a video posted on Telegram. 

‘They ensure that a small corridor to the occupied territory is open for a few dozen people. Not so much towards Russia as towards the propagandists, directly towards the television cameras.’

At least one of the corridors – out of Sumy – was operating on Tuesday despite the fatal Russian strikes early in the morning. 

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister announced that more than 5,000 civilians were evacuated from the northern Ukrainian city under a temporary ceasefire that mostly held.

Regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said around 1,700 of the evacuees were foreign students studying at universities in Sumy, adding the ceasefire was broken only once by a shooting near a checkpoint.

But Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the route out of Mariupol, which has been without water or electricity for the best part of a week, was shelled.

Mariupol is one of the Ukrainian cities worst hit since the invasion began, with Russian forces bringing widespread destruction to residential and administrative centers.

And each time Russia has agreed to open ‘humanitarian corridors’ allowing citizens to flee the city, its forces have broken their ceasefire agreement and continued shelling in what appear to have been targeted attacks on innocent civilians. 

Zelensky said people stuck in the blockaded urban center are beginning to suffer from a lack of supplies as the city runs dangerously low on food, water and medicine. 

Ukrainian territorial defense forces have been able to deliver vital supplies to some residents, but many more remain isolated and unable to access lifesaving rations.

In Bucha, to the northwest of Kyiv, the mayor said the city is under such heavy shelling that medics cannot get into the streets to retrieve the bodies of the dead – which are now being ‘pulled apart’ by stray dogs. 

‘It’s a nightmare,’ he added.

The United Nations said the number of refugees who have fled Ukraine has already reached 2 million – the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II. 

One million were children, UNICEF spokesman James Elder tweeted, calling it ‘a dark historical first.’ Most others were women. 

In Zhyotymyr, west of Kyiv, a fire at an oil depot was extinguished in the early hours of the morning while in Mykolaiv, in the south, several fires in residential areas had broke out due to Russian attacks – with four civilians killed and five others rescued from the rubble and taken to hospital

In Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, Russian shelling set nine floors and 27 apartment units of a residential building on fire – a blaze that took rescuers more than four hours to extinguish. At least four people were killed.

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, speaking to the BBC, said Russian forces are ‘getting more desperate’ and ‘we are seeing the Russians just double down on brutality’ as the attack stalls. 

People file across a makeshift river crossing below a destroyed bridge as they flee from advancing Russian troops whose attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin

People file across a makeshift river crossing below a destroyed bridge as they flee from advancing Russian troops whose attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin

People file across a makeshift river crossing below a destroyed bridge as they flee from advancing Russian troops whose attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin

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

Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv

Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv

Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv

Source: Daily Mail

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