The US is reported to be sending two Patriot missile batteries to Poland as a "defensive deployment" to counter any potential threat to US and Nato allies while it is egging on Nato member Poland to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine, in a move that would escalate the conflict.
Pentagon, however, dismissed Poland's proposal to transfer their MiG-29 fighter jets to the US for delivery to Ukraine, according to reports.
Poland said on Tuesday that it was ready to deploy — immediately and free of charge — all their MiG-29 fighter jets to the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany and place them at the disposal of Washington to provide them to Ukraine, according to a statement from the Polish foreign ministry.
“At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes,” it added.
A top State Department official on Tuesday tried to distance the US from Poland’s offer sayin that it did not consult the United States prior to issuing its statement about readiness to transfer jets to the US in Germany.
“I saw that announcement by the government of Poland as I was literally driving here today,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
“So to my knowledge, it wasn't pre-consulted with us that they plan to give these planes to us,” she said.
"In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if, in fact, they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians. What can we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they’re handing over to the Ukrainians? We’re in very active discussions with them about that,” CBS quoted Secretary of State Antony Blinken as saying on Sunday.
US President Joe Biden also announced a ban on Russian energy imports to the US as Ukraine’s President urged the UK Parliament to strengthen sanctions against Moscow and vowed the country will "fight to the end."
While the US gave Nato allies the “green light” to supply fighter jets to Ukraine, Russia has warned that it will be at war with any country supplying fighter planes to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday that it has lost contact with remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, which was taken over by Russian forces last month.
The Chernobyl site is not currently operational and handling of nuclear material has been halted, the IAEA said, citing information from Ukraine’s nuclear regulator. The facility holds decommissioned reactors as well as radioactive waste facilities. The regulatory authority told IAEA that it could only communicate with the plant via e-mail.
The agency said it had been informed by Ukrainian officials that it is becoming “increasingly urgent” to rotate staff for the “safe management” of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where some 210 personnel have been working for almost two weeks straight since Russian forces seized control of the facility.
Staff have been effectively living at the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster for the past 13 days and while they have access to food, water and medicine to a “limited extend,” their situation is “worsening,” the IAEA quoted Ukraine’s nuclear regulator as saying.
Eight of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors are currently operating, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator told IAEA, and that radiation levels still appear normal. Staff have been able to swap shifts at the operational sites, including at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya, which is also now under Russian control.
The US intelligence community believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin views the conflict in Ukraine as a "war he cannot afford to lose," suggesting he is likely to escalate the conflict without any concern for the number of civilians killed, the US's top intelligence chiefs told Congress.
Ukrainian officials said about 5,000 people evacuated the city of Sumy on Tuesday, after a Russian airstrike in the city Monday killed at least 21 civilians.
At least 2 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, the UN estimates.