WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to Warsaw, where she'll thank Poland for taking in Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion, is taking an unexpected turn.
Harris will be landing in the middle of unexpected diplomatic turbulence over fighter jets.
The Polish government unexpectedly announced a plan to transfer 28 Russian-made fighter planes to a U.S. military base in Germany, with the expectation that the planes would be handed over to Ukrainian pilots. The Pentagon quickly rejected the plan, calling it "not tenable."
I am en route to Warsaw, Poland and later this week to Bucharest, Romania. This trip comes at an important moment as the United States continues to demonstrate unity with our NATO Allies and provide support to the people of Ukraine in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) March 9, 2022
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday that the plan raised the concerning prospect of warplanes departing from a U.S. and NATO base to fly into airspace contested with Russia in the Ukraine conflict. The U.S., Kirby said, will continue to talk to Poland and other NATO allies about supplying the planes.
The confusion marked a rare display of disharmony as NATO allies seek to boost Ukrainian fighters while avoiding getting caught up in a wider war with Russia and leaves Harris to patch things up as she opens a two-day visit to Poland and Romania on Wednesday.
According to NPR, top Biden administration officials who briefed reporters ahead of the trip downplayed the dispute, noting that there are "a lot of ideas worth discussing."
Harris is expected to continue talks with the Poles about getting fighter jets to the Ukrainians.