Lawmakers Struggle To Help Ukraine

Photo by Elijah Mears on Unsplash

The entire government is divided over this.

Should the U.S. facilitate the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine? That’s the question that has been the focus on Capitol Hill in recent weeks, where a growing number of lawmakers are answering in the affirmative.

More lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to answer the call for help from Kyiv by providing more air power. However, not everyone agrees. Some lawmakers are urging the administration to exercise restraint as the move has the potential to become a fatal mistake.

The debate has crossed the usual partisan divide, pitting the White House not only against Republicans but also President Joe Biden’s closest allies.

The debate has also drawn attention to the frustration lawmakers from both parties feel, watching, with a growing sense of helplessness, Russia’s onslaught of Ukraine.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Wash.), shared that the decision on what military assistance to provide Ukraine is “a very difficult balance.”
He added that the United States wants “to help Ukraine in every way we can without going to war with Russia and starting World War III and risking a nuclear conflict.”

At the heart of the debate are 28 Polish fighter jets — MiG-29s — which Poland’s leaders offered to transfer to Ukraine. The offer took the Pentagon by surprise, as Poland, concerned about sparking direct retaliation from Russian President Vladimir Putin, offered to send the jets to the U.S. airbase in Germany first.

Immediately the administration turned down the proposal, warning that a scenario where jets fly out of a U.S. base to contested skies over Ukraine would cause “serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”

However, Schiff gave another reason for the rejection of the transfer, saying the MiG-29s are outdated. He mentioned how Ukraine already has fighter jets that they weren’t using, saying that “all they’re doing is moving them around to make sure they don’t get taken out.”

He then brought up his alternative explanation, saying, “the MiG-29 is, as I understand it, an early fourth-generation fighter that would not fare well. It wouldn’t survive against the surface to air missiles that Russia has in Ukraine.”

He continued, saying the MiG-29s would not be “a particularly effective platform” while stressing that sending them increases the “risk of escalating the conflict.” Schiff concluded, stating that if anyone were to “Do the math,” they’d see it is not “the right decision to make at this point.”