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US general wants fighter jets sent to Ukraine — RT World News

California National Guard commanding general calls on Washington to supply kyiv with Soviet-designed MiG warplanes

The commanding general of the California National Guard has suggested that the US government and officials from other Western countries consider providing Ukraine with fighter jets, something kyiv has long requested.

Major General David Baldwin told US news outlet Politico on Friday that Soviet-designed jets, which Ukrainian pilots are familiar with, are the best choice in the short term.

MiGs are the best immediate solution to support the Ukrainians, but American or Western fighters are options that should be explored as soon as possible,said Baldwin.

On Thursday, the general also revealed to reporters that US military officials were helping their Ukrainian colleagues draft requests for fighter jets from Western countries.

A plan, which would have involved NATO member Poland handing over its MiGs to Ukraine, with the United States replacing the outgoing plane with F-16s, fell through in March. Nevertheless, General Baldwin still hopes that the Ukrainian Air Force will eventually receive this type of aircraft, Politico reported.

In addition to this, Baldwin said that over the next six months to a year and then longer term deliveries of Western-built fighter jets should also be considered and that a “discussion of number, types and capabilities of aircraft“was needed. The National Guard commander said the focus should be on finding a system”that would be effective, available and affordablefor Ukrainians.

The California National Guard has a long-standing close relationship with members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, with whom joint exercises have been conducted since the 1990s, Politico reports. The guard pilots reportedly stayed in close contact with their Ukrainian counterparts and recently shared tactical advice with them.

However, Lt. Col. Brandon Hill, spokesman for the California National Guard, stressed on Thursday that the ultimate authority for deciding whether to provide kyiv with American-made fighter jets rests with the White House and the Pentagon. At the same time, the official acknowledged that even before Russia began its military operation, there were plans to return the Ukrainian army “NATO interoperable,in particular by giving it the possibility of operating Western combat aircraft.

Soviet-designed MiG fighter jets are still part of the air forces of NATO member states such as Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia.

However, when Warsaw offered in March to hand over part of its fleet to kyiv on the condition that the United States replace them with F-16s, the White House refused to back the project.

John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman at the time, said the United States had “does not support the transfer of fighters to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time“and had”no desire to see them in our custody either.He raised the risk that Russia could interpret 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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