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Poland is the first NATO country to supply warplanes to Ukraine

Poland said Thursday it plans to give Ukraine about a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets, making it the first NATO member to meet Kiev’s increasingly urgent requests to defend itself against warplanes. Russian invasion.

Warsaw will hand over four of the Soviet-made fighter jets “in the next few days,” President Andrzej Duda said, and the rest need service but will be delivered later. The Polish word he used to describe the total number could mean between 11 and 19.

“They’re in the last years of their life, but they’re in good working order,” Duda said.

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


This photograph taken on January 1, 2023 shows a MIG-29 Ukrainian 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 MiGs to Kiev, but did not identify them. Both Poland and Slovakia have indicated they are ready to hand over their planes, but only as part of a larger international coalition.

The government of neighboring NATO member Germany was alarmed by Duda’s announcement.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters that “so far everyone has agreed that it is not time to send in fighter jets.” “I still have no confirmation from Poland that this has happened.”

The White House called Poland’s move a sovereign decision and praised the Poles for continuing to “punch above their weight” to help Kiev, but it stressed the move. There will be no bearing On President Biden, who has resisted calls to provide US F-16s to Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, “There is no change in our view on the fighter jets at this time.” “It’s our sovereign decision. That’s where we are, other nations can speak to their own decisions.”

The White House said Poland had informed the US of its decision to supply MiGs before Duda announced the move.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine had dozens of MiG-29s that it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but it is unclear how many remain in service more than a year after the war.

Debate over whether to supply warplanes to non-NATO Ukraine began last year, but NATO allies have expressed concern over the alliance’s increased role in the war. The dilemma continued even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made increasingly vocal appeals to Western supporters to share their warplanes.

Duda made the announcement at a joint press conference in Warsaw with visiting Czech President Petr Pavel.

Duda said the planes the Polish Air Force will provide to Ukraine will be replaced by South Korean-made FA-50 fighters and American-made F-35s.

Poland provided important aid to Ukraine during the war. It hosts thousands of American troops and has taken in more Ukrainians than any other country during the refugee exodus stemming from Russian aggression.

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


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