GOP Sen. Portman: ‘I do not understand’ why US not transferring jets to Ukraine

Late. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBipartisan group of senators to meet with officials, visit refugee sites in Poland Sunday shows preview: Russian invasion in Ukraine extends into third week Live coverage: Mosque hit in Mariupol, Russian attacks continue in Kyiv MORE (R-Ohio) on Sunday questioned why the US rejected Poland’s proposal to transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to a US air base in Germany, saying, “I do not understand why we’re not doing it.”

Asked by co-anchor Dana BashDana BashRussia’s nuclear weapons threat raises Western fears Live coverage: Ukraine says 352 civilians dead amid Russian invasion The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Putin’s dramatic timeline for Ukraine decisions MORE on CNN’s “State of the Union” if he is worried that Poland giving plans to Ukraine could trigger World War III, Portman said, “I do not know why that would be true.”

He said he does not understand why Russia would perceive sending fighter jets to Ukraine as a larger escalation compared to other ways the US and NATO allies have supported Kyiv amid Russia’s invasion.

“The Russians have complained about everything. [Russian President] Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTrump tears into Biden amid Ukraine conflict Bipartisan group of senators to meet with officials, visit refugee sites in Poland Republicans seize on rising gas prices amid Ukraine conflict MORE has said that the sanctions are an act of war. They certainly complained when we provided Stingers directly from the US government, which can knock down an airplane and have been successful in doing that at lower altitudes, ”Portman said.

“We have given them helicopters. As recently as January, we provided them US military helicopters. And those are directly from the United States. In this case, this would be Poland providing these airplanes, which are Soviet-style planes, old planes, MiG-29s. There are also two other countries, Slovakia and Bulgaria, that have these airplanes. What we have heard directly from the Ukrainians is they want them badly. They want the ability to have better control over the – over the skies in order to give them a fighting chance, ”he added.

The Ohio Republican said, “I do not understand why this is any worse than, from a Russian point of view, than other things … that we’ve already done or that we’re talking about.”

Pentagon press secretary John KirbyJohn Kirby Sunday shows preview: Russian invasion in Ukraine extends into third week GOP senators urge Biden to expedite transfer of airpower, air defense systems to Ukraine Leadership, security failures led to deadly Kenya terror attack: Pentagon probe MORE on Tuesday said Poland’s proposal to transfer MiG-28 fighter jets to a US air base in Germany and then Ukraine to help the country in its fight against Russia was not “tenable.”

That announcement, however, came days after Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony Blinken Blinken authorizes 0M in defense aid for Ukraine following Biden request Biden directs 0 million in defense aid for Ukraine Live coverage: Mosque hit in Mariupol, Russian attacks continue in Kyiv MORE said plans for Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine had received “the green light” from the US He also said the Biden administration would work to backfill Poland’s needs if it send jets to Ukraine.

Portman on Sunday pointed to Blinken’s initial approval of the plan in questioning why the US did not follow through.

“So I do not understand why we are not doing it. We initially gave it a green light. As you know, last weekend, the Secretary of State said it was going to get a green light. And for some reason, now we’re blocking it, ”he said.

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