Poland to supply Ukraine with MiG-29 fighters, a first

This will be the first such delivery by a NATO member. Poland will deliver a first batch of four MiG-29 fighter-bombers to Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced on Thursday.

“In the coming days, we will first transfer (…) four fully operational aircraft to Ukraine,” Andrzej Duda told reporters. kyiv has repeatedly asked its Western allies to send it modern fighter-bombers, hoping to get American F-16s.

Still no for Washington

The Polish decision “does not change anything”, however, to the American refusal to do the same, assured John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House shortly after. “It does not change our analysis. (…) It is not on the table, ”he told reporters, recalling that President Joe Biden had publicly opposed the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine.

Reacting to Warsaw’s announcement, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said: “MiGs won’t solve problems, we need F-16s. But the MiGs will help strengthen our capabilities.”

“Suffering” of the civilian population

Russia did not react immediately to the Polish announcement, but the Kremlin repeated several times that Western arms deliveries to Kiev would only prolong the conflict and the “suffering” of the civilian population, without changing Moscow’s “military objectives” in Ukraine.

During his press conference, the Polish president added that “other devices are currently under maintenance and will probably be transferred later” too. “We can therefore say that we are on the point of sending these MiGs to Ukraine”, he said, specifying that Poland has about fifteen MiGs, inherited in the 1990s from the armed forces of the German Democratic Republic, GDR.

“These MiGs are still in service with the Polish Air Force. These are the last years of operation of these devices which still remain, for the most part, operational, “said President Duda. He added that these MiG-29s are “devices that Ukrainian pilots can use today without additional training”.

“A larger coalition”

On Thursday morning, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Poland wanted to transfer MiG-29s to Ukraine “as part of a broader coalition of states”.

Asked about the other countries in this coalition, he replied that it was Slovakia but “of course we are open to other participants. We absolutely want our activities to be carried out within the framework of a coalition”. The MiGs transferred to Ukraine will be replaced by South Korean FA-50 aircraft and American F-35s.

Last year, Poland’s neighbor Slovakia said it was ready to discuss sending MiG-29s to help replace losses suffered by Ukraine’s current stockpile, but made no decision to this subject.

The Polish president’s announcement comes after his defense minister said Polish counterintelligence had dismantled a Russian spy ring. Mariusz Blaszczak clarified on public radio that it was a “spy group that collected information for those who attacked Ukraine”.

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