May 18. 2024. 4:35

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Poland to send Ukraine first batch of MiG-29 jets in coming days

Poland will send Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets in coming days, the president said on Thursday (16 March), making it the first of Kyiv’s allies to provide such aircraft.

One of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, Warsaw has taken a leading role in persuading sometimes hesitant allies to provide Kyiv with heavy weaponry. It has said that any transfer of jets would be as part of a coalition.

“Firstly, literally within the next few days, we will hand over, as far as I remember, four aircraft to Ukraine in full working order,” Andrzej Duda told a news conference.

“The rest are being prepared, serviced.”

On Tuesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that deliveries could be made in four to six weeks.

Duda said that Poland had roughly 10-20 MiG 29 jets.

Asked last week how many MiG-29 planes Warsaw might supply, the head of the president’s office, Pawel Szrot, said it would “certainly not” be as many as 14.

Poland has been replacing them with US-made F-16s and South Korean FA 50 multi-task jets and is also purchasing US F-35 fighters.

NATO allies in the former communist east such as Poland and Slovakia have been particularly vocal supporters of Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

Slovakia has also been considering whether to send some of its 11 MiG-29 jets to Ukraine but has yet to reach a decision. The jets were retired last summer, and reportedly not all are in operational condition.

“I think it is time to make a decision,” Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Facebook last week. “People are dying in Ukraine, we can really help them, there is no room for Slovak politicking.”

Nad said he had spoken to Poland’s defence minister at a European Union meeting on Wednesday and was told Warsaw would agree to a joint process to hand over MiG-29 jets to Ukraine.

Poland has already sent 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.