Slovakia to deliver 13 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine
Petr David Josek Associated Press Slovak Army MiG-29s at an air show on August 27 latest
Slovakia will deliver thirteen Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, its prime minister announced on Friday, becoming the second NATO country after Poland to make such a move, with Moscow warning that these devices will be “destroyed”.
“We will hand over 13 of our MiG-29s to Ukraine,” Eduard Heger told reporters, adding that the move was “fully coordinated with Poland and Ukraine.”
Poland has indicated on Thursday that it would send “in the coming days” a first batch of four MiG-29s.
“We are giving these MiGs to Ukraine so that they can protect civilians from the many bombs falling on their homes which are the reason people are dying in Ukraine,” the prime minister said.
Kiev repeatedly asked its Western allies to send it modern fighter-bombers, hoping to obtain American F-16s.
Kremlin immediately denounced “increasing involvement large” of NATO countries in the conflict with Kiev.
“The delivery of this military equipment, as we have repeatedly said, cannot affect the outcome” of the conflict, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “Of course, this equipment will be destroyed,” he added.
The decision of Poland and Slovakia has was hailed on Friday by Estonia, which said it was always necessary “to do more to help Ukraine win and defeat the aggressor”.
At least three Slovak aircraft destined for Ukraine will be used to supply spare parts. Transporting the MiGs to Ukraine will take a few weeks, Slovak officials said on Friday.
The head of government added that his country will also deliver the Koub air defense system to Kiev.
Last year, Slovakia decided to stop using its MiG-29s. They will be replaced by January 2024 by American F-16s. For now, Slovak airspace is protected by the Czech Republic and Poland.
The delivery of fighters, spare parts and anti-aircraft missiles will take place on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement and Slovakia will be compensated by its allies.
“We will receive compensation through the European Peace Facility Heger explained, as the defense minister referred to an offer from Washington of unspecified US military equipment worth US$700 million.
On Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that “in the coming days” Poland will transfer “four fully operational aircraft to Ukraine”.
Reacting to Warsaw's announcement, the carrier Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said, “MiGs won't solve problems, we need F-16s. But the MiGs will contribute to strengthening our capabilities”.
The Polish decision “does not change anything”, however, to the American refusal to do the same, underlined shortly after John Kirby, a spokesman for the House- Blanche.
“It doesn't change our analysis. […] It's not on the table,” he told reporters, recalling that US President Joe Biden had publicly opposed the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine.
On Friday, Spain also confirmed once again that it would not deliver fighter jets to Ukraine.
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