Biden defends decision not to send jets to Ukraine

President Biden on Friday defended his decision to veto the US-facilitated transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine to repel Russia’s invasion, saying, “that’s called World War III.”

Biden faces bipartisan blowback for rejecting Poland’s offer to transfer 28 Soviet-designed MiG-29s – after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Poland had a “green light.”

“The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews – just understand, do not kid yourself, no matter what y’all say, that’s called World War III, ”Biden told a gathering of House Democrats in Philadelphia.

Poland offered to fly the jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where the US would facilitate the transfer. It was unclear whether US or Ukrainian pilots would fly the planes into Ukraine pursuant to the spiked Polish plan.

Biden went on to defend his economic record – blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for annual inflation hitting a fresh 40-year high of 7.9 percent in February, up from 7.5 percent in January.

“One-third of all the inflation in America last year was because of the price of automobiles… the companies could not get semiconductors,” Biden said. “The second big reason for inflation is Vladimir Putin. From the moment he put his over 150,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, the price of gasoline in January went up 75 cents. ”

President Joe Biden argued Russia's invasion of Ukraine was driving up gas prices and inflation.
President Biden argued Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was driving up gas prices and inflation.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Biden continued: “Putin began amassing troops along the border and guess what? The world took notice. And those who would work in the business know that the market anticipated – the prices went up more. Then Putin invaded. Make no mistake, inflation is largely the fault of Putin. “

Inflation began to take off before the White House started warning in November that a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine could be a prelude to an invasion.

Biden previously blamed inflation on supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In December, he claimed that the prior month’s 6.8 percent annual inflation rate was likely the “peak.” He said in July that inflation was “temporary” when it was around 5 percent.

Biden insisted that his $ 1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and his policies of curbing oil pipeline projects and drilling had little effect on inflation.

“Let’s get something straight here: The Keystone Pipeline was two years away. It had been 2 percent finished. Give me a break, ”the president said 14 months after blocking the controversial project.

Biden blamed energy companies for not drilling for more oil, saying, “the oil companies and executives, they do not want to pump more oil.”

President Biden said he did not want to trigger "World War III" by transferring fighter jets to Ukraine.
President Biden said he did not want to trigger “World War III” by transferring fighter jets to Ukraine.
AP

“Do not tell me gas prices rose because I’ve slowed down American energy production,” Biden said before arguing that “Putin’s gas tax has pushed prices up higher.”

The White House has made a concerted push to blame Putin for higher gas prices, particularly after the US banned Russian oil imports this week. Fuel cost can indirectly increase the cost of other goods, aggravating inflation.

Democrats did not cause this problem. Vladimir Putin did, “Biden insisted once again Friday.

An explosion was seen in an apartment building after Russian's army tank fires in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 11, 2022.
An explosion was seen in an apartment building after Russian’s army tank fires in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 11, 2022.
AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka

However, the latest monthly inflation data released Thursday covered only the first four days of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The average price of US gasoline was $ 4.34 per gallon on Friday, up sharply from about $ 3.60 on the last day of February. The national average started at about $ 3.45 in February before nudging higher after hovering around $ 3.30 in January.

Biden defended his decision to block new plans for Ukraine as he faces intense bipartisan pressure to reconsider his decision to ax the aircraft transfer.

President Joe Biden claims he does not want to risk the lives of
President Biden claims he does not want to risk the lives of “American pilots and American crews” by going to Ukraine.
NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP via Getty Images

Poland offered to fly the jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where the US would facilitate the transfer. It was unclear whether US or Ukrainian pilots would fly the planes into Ukraine pursuant to the spiked Polish plan.


Get the latest updates in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with The Post’s live coverage.


Forty Republican senators wrote Biden a letter Thursday urging him to reconsider and several Democrats have been sharply critical of that decision.

“There is bipartisan support to provide these plans,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said Thursday. “It is disappointing to see the reluctance on the part of the administration. It’s coming across as indecision and bickering among members of the administration, which is not helpful to the cause. ”

A map shows where Russian forces have attacked so far in Ukraine as of March 11, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has demanded Western countries establish no-fly zones in embattled territories.
NY Post Illustration

“Time is of the essence,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I understand why NATO and the United States are not engaged in a no-fly zone [in Ukraine]. That has potential [for] direct conflict with Russia, but I do not understand why we are not working to facilitate plans to Ukraine. ”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that US military officials had assessed “that adding aircraft to the inventory is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian air force relative to Russian capability.”

Psaki added, “The Ukrainian air force has several squadrons of fully mission-capable aircraft and although Russian air capabilities are significant, their effectiveness has been limited due to Ukrainian strategic operational and tactical ground-based air defense systems – surface-to-air missiles and MANPADS [man-portable air defense systems]. ”

A senior US defense official said Friday that Ukraine is believed to still have 56 fighter jets that are able to fly about five to 10 missions a day within the country.

It’s unclear why Ukraine has not used its air force to bomb a miles-long Russian convoy north of the capital city, Kyiv, though some experts speculate that Ukrainian leaders are reserving equipment for a potential counterattack if enemy forces get closer to the capital.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pressed for speedy delivery of the aircraft as Russian troops began to encircle the country’s largest cities after two weeks of war.

“Solve it faster,” Zelensky said Wednesday. “Do not shift the responsibility – send us planes.”

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