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March 30, 2023

Slovakia to Provide Warplanes to Ukraine, Following Poland’s Lead – GOSSIP A

Slovakia to Provide Warplanes to Ukraine, Following Poland’s Lead

Slovakia’s government announced on Friday that it would send 13 fighter jets of Soviet design to Ukraine, a day after Poland’s president made a similar announcement, marking a potentially significant shift from NATO allies in increasing arms supplies for Kyiv.

Slovakia, which shares a border with both Ukraine and Poland, stated months ago that it was prepared to provide Ukraine with MIG-29 fighter jets. “Promises must be kept,” tweeted the prime minister of Slovakia, Eduard Heger. He did not specify the delivery schedule.

The news arrived a day after Poland’s president made a surprise announcement that his country would send four MIG-29 jets to Ukraine within days, a move that appeared designed to pave the way for more advanced warplanes from NATO allies. These would be the first warplanes sent to Ukraine by a NATO nation since Russia’s full-scale invasion commenced a year ago.

The Kremlin dismissed Poland’s pledge of MIG-29s on Friday, stating that the jets would have no effect on the outcome of the war and reiterating its position that they would only cause more trouble for the Ukrainian people.

Dmitry S. Peskov, the spokesman for the Kremlin, told reporters during a routine briefing, “All of this equipment will be destroyed.” It appears that these nations intend to dispose of their obsolete equipment in this manner.

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Ukraine and its allies in Eastern Europe have advocated for advanced jet fighters, specifically the American F-16. The United States has expressed reluctance, although senior officials have stated that the administration has not ruled out a later decision to provide them or, more likely, the negotiation of a deal to allow another nation to send them.

At least for the time being, the United States held its ground. Polish President Andrzej Duda’s pledge “does not change our calculus concerning F-16s,” White House spokesman John F. Kirby said Thursday. He stated that Mr. Duda had not discussed his plan with President Biden.

The Biden administration has resisted sending American fighter jets because training Ukrainian pilots for ongoing military operations would take too long. Given Russia’s air superiority, it could be risky as well.

There are still numerous questions regarding the concreteness of Poland’s plan. Poland initially pledged to send its fleet of 28 MIG fighters a year ago, and the country’s defense officials have recently stated that they will only send warplanes as part of a coalition with other nations.

Mr. Duda announced on Thursday that Poland would transfer four MIG fighter jets to Ukraine “in the coming days.” As Ukrainian pilots are already trained to fly MIG fighters, the aircraft could be deployed rapidly.

ALSO READ: Poland pledges fighter jets to Ukraine

As Russia is anticipated to launch spring offensives, the push to provide more advanced weapons has accelerated, particularly in the former Soviet eastern edge of Europe, which has been particularly vocal in opposing Russia’s aggression.

Other nations have indicated their willingness to provide fighter jets. France stated last month that it had not ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine, though President Emmanuel Macron stipulated that they could not “touch Russian soil.”

Last month, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that his country would train Ukrainian pilots to fly jets to NATO standards and hinted that he was open to eventually sending planes.

A year ago, Poland stated that it was willing to give Ukraine its fleet of MIG-29s — believed to number around 28, but not all operational — on the condition that the United States replace them with more modern American warplanes. The plan never materialized.

However, Poland remains one of the largest contributors to the Ukrainian war effort relative to the size of its economy. Mr. Kirby praised Poland on Thursday for “really punching above its weight” in supporting Ukraine.


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