WARSAW: Poland’s president said Thursday that his country plans to give Ukraine around a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets, which would make it the first NATO member to fulfill the Ukrainian government’s increasingly urgent requests for warplanes.
President Andrzej Duda said Poland would hand over four of the Soviet-made warplanes “within the next few days” and that the rest needed servicing and would be supplied later. The Polish word he used to describe the total number can mean between 11 and 19.
“They are in the last years of their functioning, but they are in good working condition,” Duda said of the aircraft.
He did not say whether other countries would follow suit, although Slovakia has said it would send its disused MiGs to Ukraine.
Poland also was the first NATO nation to provide Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
On Wednesday, Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said some other countries also had pledged MiGs to Kyiv, but he did not name them. Both Poland and Slovakia had indicated they were ready to hand over their planes, but only as part of a wider international coalition doing the same.
Germany’s government appeared to have been caught off guard by Duda’s announcement. “So far, everyone has agreed that it’s not the time to send fighter jets,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters. “I don’t have any confirmation from Poland yet that this has happened.”
Before Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s it inherited in the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it’s unclear how many of them remain in service after more than a year of fighting.