Poland, Slovakia become first NATO members to offer Ukraine fighter jets

Andrzej Duda, Polish president, said this week that Poland will transfer four MiG-29 fighter aircrafts to Ukraine within the next few days. He also plans to send other MiG-29 fighter planes.

Latest: Eduard Heger, the Prime Minister of Slovak, stated Friday that 13 MiG-29s would be sent to his country.

According to Reuters, Slovakia’s 11 MiG-29 fleet was retired last summer.

Why it matters: These transfers would make Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic the first and second NATO member to respond to Kyiv’s request for aircraft to aid it in preventing Russia from securing greater air superiority over Ukraine.

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Ukrainian Air Force has MiG-29 jets and will be able to operate the aircraft immediately.

According to AP, Duda stated that Poland would transfer more planes once they are serviced.

Duda didn’t say whether other countries would like to join Poland in fulfilling Ukraine’s request for aircraft. A spokesperson for the Polish government said Wednesday that MiGs have been pledged to Ukraine by other countries, but did not identify them.

Heger stated that the military assistance to Ukraine was to help it defend itself and all of Europe against Russia.

The leaders did not say when they expected Ukraine to receive the aircraft.

John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, told reporters that the decision by Poland to not supply Ukraine with aircraft did not alter the position of President Barack Obama.

Kirby stated that “it doesn’t alter our calculus regarding the F-16,” referring to the U.S. fighter planes being sought by Ukraine. It’s not on the table at the moment.

The big picture: Since the invasion of Russia, Ukrainian officials have called on the U.S. and European countries to provide fighter jets to Ukraine or create a “no fly” zone.

In March 2022, the U.S. rejected a proposal from the Polish government to send its entire fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S. This would have allowed the U.S. military to transfer the Soviet-era aircraft over to Ukraine.

This plan would have included the replacement of Poland’s MiG29 fleet with American-made F-16 fighter planes.