Poland to be first NATO country to provide fighter jets to Ukraine

Poland said on Thursday it plans to deliver about a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, making it the first NATO member to meet Kiev’s increasingly urgent requests for fighter jets for self-defense. will do Russian invasion.

President Andrzej Duda said Warsaw would hand over four Soviet-made warplanes “in the next few days”, and that the rest needed servicing but would be delivered later. The Polish word he used to describe the total number could mean between 11 and 19.

“They’re in their last years of work, but they’re in good shape,” Duda said.

He did not say whether other countries would follow suit, although Slovakia has said it will send its unused mugs to Ukraine. Poland was also the first NATO country to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks.

This photo taken on January 1, 2023 shows a Ukrainian MIG-29 fighter jet flying over eastern Ukraine.

Samir Al Doumi/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said some other countries had also pledged mugs to Kiev, but did not identify them. Both Poland and Slovakia have indicated they are willing to hand over their planes, but only as part of a broader international alliance.

The government of Germany, a member of the neighboring NATO, seemed to be caught off guard by Duda’s announcement.

“So far everyone has agreed that this is not the time to send fighter jets,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters. “

The White House called Poland’s move a sovereign decision and praised the Poles for “punching above their weight” in helping Kiev, but downplayed the move. There will be no effect On President Biden, who has resisted calls for US F-16 fighter jets to be delivered to Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said there has been no change in our approach to fighter jets at this time. “This is our sovereign decision. This is where we are, other nations can speak to their decision.”

The White House said Poland had informed the United States of its decision to supply the mugs before Duda announced the move.

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

Discussions about providing fighter jets to non-NATO member Ukraine began last year, but NATO allies have expressed concern about expanding the alliance’s role in the war. The reluctance continued even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi quickly called on Western allies to share their warplanes.

Duda made the announcement during a joint news conference in Warsaw with visiting Czech President Peter Puel.

Duda said Poland’s air force will replace the planes it gives to Ukraine with South Korean-made FA-50 fighter jets and US-made F-35s.

Poland has provided significant support to Ukraine during the war. It hosts thousands of US troops and has taken in more Ukrainians than any other nation during the refugee exodus triggered by the Russian invasion.

The central European nation has experienced centuries of Russian invasion and occupation and fears Russia despite being a member of NATO.

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