Poland will be the first NATO member to supply Ukraine with fighter jets

Polish President says his country plans to give Ukraine a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets

President Andrzej Duda said Poland would hand over four of the Soviet-made warplanes “in the next few days” and the rest needed repairs and would be supplied later. The Polish word he used to describe the total number could mean between 11 and 19.

“They’re in the final years of operation, but they’re in good working order,” Duda said of the plane.

He did not say whether other countries would follow, although Slovakia said it would send its own decommissioned MiGs to Ukraine. Poland was also the first NATO country to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks.

On Wednesday, Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said other countries had also promised MiGs to kyiv, but did not name them. Poland and Slovakia had indicated they were ready to hand over their planes, but only as part of a broader international coalition doing the same.

The government of Germany, a neighboring NATO member, seemed taken aback by Duda’s announcement.

“So far everyone agrees that now is not the time to send fighter jets,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters. “I don’t yet have confirmation from Poland that this has happened.”

The White House called Poland’s supply of fighter jets to Ukraine a sovereign decision and commended the Poles for continuing to “outdo their weight” in helping Kyiv.

“There is no change in our view regarding fighter jets at this time,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “It’s our sovereign decision. This is where we are, other nations can talk about their own decisions.

Prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine inherited several dozen MiG-29s during the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it is unclear how many of them remain in service after more than a decade. a year of fighting.

Debate over whether to supply non-NATO country Ukraine with fighter jets began last year, but NATO allies have expressed concern over an escalating role of the alliance in war. The hesitation continued even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made increasingly vocal calls for Western supporters to share fighter jets.

Duda made the announcement during a joint press conference in Warsaw with visiting Czech President Petr Pavel.

Duda said the Polish Air Force would replace the planes it donates to Ukraine with South Korean-made FA-50 fighters and American-made F-35s.

Poland provided Ukraine with crucial support during the war. It hosts thousands of American soldiers and took in more Ukrainians than any other country during the refugee exodus caused by the Russian invasion.

The Central European nation has experienced Russian invasions and occupations for centuries and still fears Russia despite being a member of NATO.

___ Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Leave a Comment