Russia-Ukraine war: Russia accused of breaking Mariupol ceasefire; Poland offers US its MiG-29 fighter jets – live – The Guardian

Poland is ready to immediately transfer all its MiG-29 planes free of charge to the US government as part of a move to give the planes for use by the Ukrainian air force to repel the Russia invasion, the Polish government has announced.

Poland also said it was asking the US to provide it with used aircraft with similar operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately agree on the terms of purchase of these machines.

The Polish government also asks other Nato owners of MiG-29 planes to act in a similar way.

The move follows weeks of backstage negotiations and discussions in London between the Polish prime minister and Boris Johnson.

Poland has said it will hand over its MiG-29 fighter jets to the US, which is then expected to donate them to Ukraine amid intelligence agency warnings that Vladimir Putin is about to “double down” in his invasion.

The Polish foreign minister, Zbigniew Rau, said his government was “ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein air base and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States of America”.

Poland is thought to have 28 of the Soviet-era warplanes, and has been in negotiation with the Biden administration on a three-way deal to supply Ukraine with air power, on condition that the MiGs would be replaced by newer US jets.

The deal has the effect of sharing the risk of Russian retaliation with the US, which will decide how and when to hand them to the Ukrainian air force.

“Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities,” Rau said in a statement on his ministry’s website. “Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes.”

Rau requested other Nato allies with MiG-29 jets – a reference to Slovakia and Bulgaria – to “act in the same vein”.

Poland announced the deal as US officials said the war in Ukraine had reached a pivotal moment, with Russia sustaining severe losses but with Putin determined to press on.

“I think the next couple of days are going to be critical for both the humanitarian situation and also for the tide of this war,” Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told the Guardian…

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Before the announcement that it would put all its MIG-29 at the US’ disposal, Poland came under pressure from the UK to go ahead with the deal.

The issue was discussed by the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki with Boris Johnson at a meeting in London that also saw the start of discussions about a long term reconstruction plan for Ukraine.

Johnson supports the transfer of the MiGs to Ukraine but in public, London stresses that it is a sovereign decision for Warsaw to take since in the words of the UK defence secretary Ben Wallace, Poland is most likely to face any “blowback” from Russia.

Poland had publicly opposed the move, saying it would likely be seen as a dangerous escalation by Russia, but was apparently happy to go ahead if the proposal was backed by Nato and the US provided replacement American F-16 fighter planes.

The Polish prime minister was in London to meet Johnson alongside the prime ministers of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, the so-called V4 group inside the EU .

The V4 countries have taken three quarters of the 2m Ukrainians that have poured into the European Union, including more than 1m in Poland alone. Nearly half are children placing strains on the 4 countries education systems if the refugees feel unable to return in the short term

There are clear differences between the approach to the conflict between Hungary and the other V4 states. Orban, close to Vladimir Putin but critical of his invasion, had rejected further Nato troops on Hungarian soil, and refused to send arms to Ukraine. He had also derided sanctions against Russia as an ineffective policy tool, but has not used his veto to block EU measures.

By contrast, Morawiecki called for further sanctions, and his government supports a full block on Russian energy imports into Europe.

“We can dismantle Putin’s war machine only by means of very strong and firm sanctions,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting Orban said he opposed an EU energy boycott of Russia saying “the price of war should not be paid by ordinary Hungarian families. Most of the oil and gas coming into the country comes from Russia and 90% of Hungarian families heat their homes with gas. Without oil and gas the Hungarian economy simply cannot function. If we were to end energy cooperation with Russia, the energy bills of every Hungarian family would triple in a single month”.

Orban is facing elections next month and is trying to downplay his past support for Putin, and the way in which he allowed his economy to become so dependent on Russian energy.

Poland is ready to immediately transfer all its MiG-29 planes free of charge to the US government as part of a move to give the planes for use by the Ukrainian air force to repel the Russia invasion, the Polish government has announced.

Poland also said it was asking the US to provide it with used aircraft with similar operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately agree on the terms of purchase of these machines.

The Polish government also asks other Nato owners of MiG-29 planes to act in a similar way.

The move follows weeks of backstage negotiations and discussions in London between the Polish prime minister and Boris Johnson.

More than 1,200 international students trapped in the besieged city of Sumy are among thousands of people now being evacuated, reports the Guardian’s West Africa correspondent Emmanuel Akinwotu.

A “humanitarian corridor” from Sumy in east Ukraine to Poltava, 175km south, was agreed with Russia, said Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister earlier on Tuesday.

The news of the evacuation comes as a huge relief to many in Sumy, who were effectively trapped. Shelling, blasts and fighting has largely occurred on the outskirts of the city, yet overnight at least 21 people including two children were killed by Russian bombs on a residential street in the city, according to the regional prosecutor’s office said.

Main roads and bridges leading out of Sumy have been damaged by the fighting since Russia invaded Ukraine last week. Many people are running low on food and water and some students in Sumy have resorted to boiling ice and were falling ill. University staff and volunteers were helping the students each day, delivering food and water.

Some students escaped Sumy in private vehicles in recent days, against orders from Ukrainian troops, driving through forestry and through areas where fighting had occurred to get away. Many in the city became increasingly fearful of being able to survive, as food supplies in stores have depleted.

Before the evacuations began, about 360 Nigerian students had been trapped in hostels in Sumy, thought to be the second largest group after about 700 Indians and students of other nationalities including Ireland, Tanzania and Ghana.

Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said on Tuesday afternoon he was “delighted and mightily relieved that the evacuation of our Nigerian students from Sumy has commenced. They are in our thoughts and prayers as they undertake the very long and hazardous trip to safety,” in a statement.

“A million thanks to the government of Ukraine,” he added, also thanking volunteers and aid groups involved in the evacuation.



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