Slovakia’s government approves plan to send Ukraine its fleet of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets

Streaming HUBMarch 18, 2023

Slovakia’s government on Friday approved a plan to give Ukraine its fleet of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, heeding the Ukrainian government’s pleas for the warplanes to help defend against an invasion by Russia. Vala became the second NATO member country.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced the decision during a news conference, saying that his government was “on the right side of history”. Earlier, Hager tweeted that military aid was vital to ensure that Ukraine could defend itself and all of Europe against Russia.

Poland announced on Thursday that it would deliver about a dozen MiG-29s to Ukraine, with four expected initially in the coming days. Both Poland and Slovakia previously indicated they were prepared to accept Ukraine’s request for military aircraft, but only as part of a wider international coalition.

Hager said his government’s move was “closely coordinated with the Polish side, Ukraine and other partners.”

Poland plans to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine following urgent requests from the war-torn country

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the promised aircraft were another example of NATO members “increasing the level of their direct involvement in the conflict.”

“The delivery of the equipment will naturally have no effect on the outcome of the special military operation, but it may bring more misfortune to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” Peskov said during a conference call with reporters.

Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said Slovakia would receive $213 million in compensation from the European Union and $745 million in unspecified weapons from the United States in exchange for Ukraine giving up its MiG-29 fleet.

Slovakia's government has approved a plan to give Ukraine a fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets. Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced the decision on March 17, 2023.

Slovakia’s government has approved a plan to give Ukraine a fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets. Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced the decision on March 17, 2023. (Jozef Durnik/TASR via AP, File)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked Western countries for the fighter jets, but NATO allies have held back, citing concerns about increasing the alliance’s role in the war.

In response to Poland’s announcement on Thursday, the White House said Warsaw’s move would have no impact on President Joe Biden, who has resisted calls to provide US F-16s to Ukraine, and it was up to other countries to clarify their position.

Michał Baranowski, managing director of Warsaw-based GMF East, part of the German Marshall Fund think tank, said that after initial reluctance to respond to Ukraine’s request, changing conditions now allow such a move.

“Many red lines have been crossed since that discussion last year,” Baranowski told The Associated Press by phone. Sending MiGs right now “isn’t the same hard political sell it was last year.”

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Ukraine will be able to use the MiGs immediately without the need for any training.

Zelensky appealed directly to Heger for the plane at an EU summit in Brussels last month.

Slovakia grounded its MiGs over the summer due to a lack of spare parts and expertise after Russian technicians returned home. In the absence of aircraft of their own, fellow NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic stepped in to monitor Slovak airspace.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s inherited in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but it is unclear how many are in service after more than a year of fighting. are made in

The Slovak government, which decided to sign a bilateral deal with Ukraine for the jets, has only limited powers after a no-confidence vote in December toppled the coalition government formed following the country’s 2020 election.

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The next election is to be held in September, when the opposition has a good chance of winning. Its leaders include populist former prime minister Robert Fico, who opposes military support for Ukraine and EU sanctions on Russia and has said Slovakia’s government has no mandate to provide fighter jets to Ukraine.

Opposition parties, including Fico’s SMER-Social Democracy party, on Friday rejected the government’s decision and threatened to sue.

Slovakia signed a deal to buy 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets, but delivery has been pushed back two years to early 2024.


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