March 07, 2022

SFRC Chairman Menendez Presses Biden Administration to Facilitate European Allies’ Transfer of Warplanes to Ukraine

NEW JERSEY – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today is calling on the Biden administration to take whatever steps it deems necessary to expedite and support the immediate transfer of fighter aircraft from NATO and Eastern European countries to the government of Ukraine. The request follows a personal and sobering plea on Saturday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. lawmakers requesting Soviet-era fighter jets that the Ukrainian Air Force can immediately use to counter Putin’s ongoing and indiscriminate attacks on civilians.  

“It is vital to the security of Europe and the United States that Ukrainians have every possible means of military assistance that we collectively can provide,” wrote Chairman Menendez in a new letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.  “I understand this is not an easy decision for these countries to make. Asking them to provide their own aircraft, especially as Russia’s military aggression edges closer to their own borders, would be unthinkable except in the direst circumstances. Unfortunately, that is the situation the world faces. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and sacrifices.”

Chairman Menendez specifically called for the U.S. government to commit to replace any donated jets with upgraded western aircraft, including through concessionary financing and loans as well as subsidized pricing as necessary.

“The United States and our NATO allies should do everything we can to compensate countries that heed Ukraine’s desperate call for fighter jets to defend their homeland,” added Menendez. “I will support efforts in the Senate to implement measures to compensate our allies that provide their aircraft for Ukraine’s defense. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to persuade our partners, with the compensatory actions described, to rise the occasion and provide much-needed aircraft to Ukraine without delay.” 

A copy of Chairman Menendez’s letter can be found HERE and below.

Dear Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin:

It is vital to the security of Europe and the United States that Ukrainians have every possible means of military assistance that we collectively can provide. I welcome the administration’s willingness to engage with Poland to provide Soviet-era jets to Ukraine. I urge you to work as quickly as possible to finalize this dialogue with Poland and persuade additional NATO and Eastern European countries to transfer such aircraft to the government of Ukraine without delay.

I understand this is not an easy decision for these countries to make. Asking them to provide their own aircraft, especially as Russia’s military aggression edges closer to their own borders, would be unthinkable except in the direst circumstances. Unfortunately, that is the situation the world faces. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and sacrifices.

The United States and our NATO allies should do everything we can to compensate countries that heed Ukraine’s desperate call for fighter jets to defend their homeland. The United States and its allies should commit to replace any donated aircraft, including on an interim basis if possible. NATO should redeploy fighter aircraft to the same bases where any aircraft that is ultimately donated is currently based, as a visible commitment to those countries’ front-line defense. Finally, the United States and our NATO partners should also seek to provide concessionary financing and loans, and discount the prices of new aircraft through government subsidies.

I will support efforts in the Senate to implement measures to compensate our allies that provide their aircraft for Ukraine’s defense. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to persuade our partners, with the compensatory actions described, to rise the occasion and provide much-needed aircraft to Ukraine without delay.

Sincerely, 

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Juan Pachon