Four Soviet-era MiG-29s to be sent as first instalment and could lead to other Nato members providing warplanes
Poland will become the first country to deliver fighter jets to Ukraine in the next few days, marking a significant upward step in military backing for Kyiv ahead of an expected counter-offensive.
The precedent, involving four Soviet-era MiG-29s as a first instalment, could lead to other Nato members providing warplanes, a longstanding Ukrainian request.
The Polish president, Andrzej Duda, made the announcement in Warsaw. He said the first planes being handed over were inherited from East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Duda said the MiGs were coming to the end of their working lives after 30 years, but were “still in working order”. The president said that more Polish MiGs were being serviced and repaired in preparation for being handed to Ukraine. In all, Poland has 28 MiG-29s which are to be replaced over the next few years by South Korean FA-50s and US F-35s.
Until now, Ukraine’s backers in Nato have only provided spare parts for its fleet of Soviet-era warplanes, amid fears that delivering functioning planes to Ukraine would be seen by Moscow as direct participation in the war. A year ago, Poland offered to hand over all its MiGs to the US at its airbase in Ramstein, Germany, so they could be passed on to Ukraine, but Washington rejected the plan.
Slovakia, Finland and the Netherlands have all said they would consider supplying Ukraine with warplanes. The US and UK have so far refused to supply their F-16s and Typhoon combat aircraft respectively, on the grounds that they require too much training, ground support and long, smooth runways to be of any short-term help to Ukraine. However, the UK has offered to provide air cover for any eastern European country willing to supply Kyiv with Soviet-era jets.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter