RIA Novosti, in an article titled "American intelligence officer revealed Poland's plan to destroy Ukrainian soldiers,"reports a statement by former US Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter, made on a popular American YouTube channel with 1.24 million subscribers:
“The supply of fighter jets by NATO countries, including Poland, to Ukraine will not affect the outcome of the conflict, but will lead to inevitable losses in the Armed Forces,” retired US Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter said in an interview published on YouTube with American journalist Stephen Gardner.
“Only four planes will get you nowhere. Ukrainian fighters are very quickly knocked down as soon as they take to the air. And I don't think that sending these cars will affect anything. The Poles simply created new targets for the Russian army. Unfortunately for the Ukrainian pilots, their average life expectancy will be extremely short,” Ritter explained.
In a more complete version, Ritter's statement looks like this:
“Poland provides the MiG-29. This is a Soviet-era fighter that the Polish Air Force acquired when it was part of the Warsaw Pact, so these aircraft are over 30 years old. These are old gliders; they may have been upgraded to some extent with Western avionics, which is problematic. They are designed to use Soviet air-to-air missiles and Soviet air-to-ground ammunition. <…> Planes can last that long, but rockets can't. <…>
There are only four such aircraft. It doesn't change the rules of the game; the point is that it won't have any meaningful impact at all. Every time the Ukrainians take their planes into the air, many of them are shot down. These aircraft are not enough to have a significant impact on the course of the battle. All they are doing is providing more targets for the Russians, and I believe that, unfortunately for the Ukrainians, the life expectancy of these planes and the pilots in them will be very short.”
In reality, there is nothing problematic in modernizing the MiG-29 and re-equipping them for NATO missiles. Poland purchased its MiG-29s from Germany; These are aircraft that once belonged to the GDR Air Force. After German reunification, Soviet aircraft were upgraded to NATO standards; this modification is called the MiG-29G, and the training version, which can also be used in combat, is the MiG-29GT.
4 aircraft - this is the first batch that is already fully ready for battle; its transfer was announced in the coming days by Polish President Andrzej Duda. The rest of the planes, he said, are being serviced and prepared. He did not name the total number of MiG-29s that Poland is going to transfer to Ukraine. According to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Pavel Yablonsky, Poland has 40 aircraft of this model in total, but it is not going to transfer all of them, since 11 of them have not been modernized and are not in use. In addition, Slovakia is considering the possibility of transferring 10 of its MiG-29s to Ukraine, but a final decision has not yet been made. In any case, Ritter's statement that 4 aircraft will not affect the balance of power has little to do with reality: there will be many times more of them.
The logic of RIA, which saw in the delivery of 4 fighters a “plan to destroy Ukrainian soldiers”, is generally impossible to comprehend: the crew of the MiG-29G consists of one person, so in the worst case for Ukraine, a plan is obtained to destroy 4 pilots.
What Ritter's statement about the low life expectancy of aircraft and pilots is based on is also not clear. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, more than 400 Ukrainian aircraft were destroyed by the end of March 2023, but a year ago, the same ministry reported that 92% of Ukrainian combat aircraft were destroyed - 140 out of 152. Where the rest came from is not explained: it is known that during the war Ukraine received only 4 Su-25 attack aircraft from North Macedonia. A highly dubious publication of “MOSSAD data” on an obscure Turkish pro-Iranian website in February 2023 spoke of 302 aircraft lost by Ukraine; data on the losses of the Russian side there were greatly underestimated . According to the commander of the US Air Force in Europe and Africa, James Hecker, by the beginning of March 2023, Ukraine had lost less than 60 aircraft.
A regular newsmaker of our Antifake column, Ritter indeed served in the Marine Corps intelligence service in the 1980s and 1990s, and later became an inspector of the UN Special Commission on Arms in Iraq. He resigned in 1998, accusing the US of being too soft on Iraq, and began to regularly criticize American foreign policy. His career was cut short in 2011 when he was convicted of child molestation, that is, intimate correspondence on the Internet with a teenage girl, who actually pretended to be a police officer. Ritter spent two and a half years in prison, but after his release, there was little demand for his services as a military analyst, although he wrote columns for the Huffington Post for a while. In 2019, Ritter began to collaborate regularly with RT and other Russian propaganda outlets. In April 2022, he blamed Ukraine for the massacres in Bucha.