Blinken: The United States is “actively looking” to help supply combat aircraft to Ukraine

“I can’t talk about the schedule but I can only tell you that we are looking at it very actively,” he said.

Blinkin’s comments are sure to be welcomed in Kyiv, where Ukrainian leaders are pleading with Europe and the United States to provide them with additional military equipment as the civilian death toll mounts and Russian forces move closer to major cities.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday I made an urgent call to US lawmakers to help his country obtain additional air power.

Kyiv has also called on NATO to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a move that alliance officials have ruled out because they say it would likely plunge NATO into a war with Russia.

Blinken, who is visiting European countries as he seeks to signal Western unity in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, said this week that the Biden administration would not support a no-fly zone. But he did not, as of Sunday, speak of a possible US effort to help Ukraine obtain European fighter jets.

While Eastern European countries have lobbied for a stronger defense against Russia, they also have concerns that supplying fighter jets to Ukraine could prompt the Kremlin to retaliate. Poland and NATO leaders later indicated that the transfer would not occur.

Speaking to CNN from Moldova, Blinken said it was up to the Polish government whether to send any of its MiGs or other Russian-made aircraft to Ukraine. “If they choose to do that, we want to make sure we can help them and, again, refill what they give so they don’t have any loss in their ability to provide security,” he said.

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Moscow warned on Sunday that any country that allows Ukrainian planes to use its territory as a staging ground would be considered a party to the conflict.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that “the use of the airport network of those countries to station Ukrainian combat aircraft for further use against the Russian armed forces can be considered the involvement of those countries” in the conflict.

Blinken said the United States would consider whether it could supply jets to other NATO countries and donate aircraft to Ukraine on a case-by-case basis.

“For everything we do for Ukraine, the president also has a responsibility not to push us into direct conflict, or direct war, with Russia, or a nuclear power, or risk a war that extends even beyond Ukraine into Europe,” President Biden said. “What we’re trying to do is end this war in Ukraine, not start a bigger war.”

During his stopover in Moldova, Blinken thanked leaders in Chisinau for welcoming the more than 250,000 refugees who have fled Ukraine, a major challenge for a country of less than 3 million people. The visit differed from that of Blinken, in that Moldova, like Ukraine, is not a member of NATO and therefore does not have this protection.

Like Ukraine, Moldova, whose constitution states its neutrality, is seeking to join the European Union.

Speaking alongside Blinken, Moldovan President Maya Sandu described the presence of Russian forces in Transnistria as a “weak point”. She said the government had not detected anything indicating that Russian forces in the region would participate in the Ukraine conflict.

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