Slovakia approves plan to supply Ukraine with Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets

The Slovak government has approved a plan to provide Ukraine with a fleet of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets.

It becomes the second NATO member to listen to the Ukrainian government’s request for warplanes to help defend against a Russian invasion.

Announcing the decision, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said at a press conference that his government was on the “right side of history.”

Earlier, Mr Hager tweeted that military aid was key to Ukraine being able to defend itself and all of Europe from Russia.

Slovakia will receive €200m (£175.3m) in compensation from the European Union and €700m worth of unspecified arms from the US, Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said.

A Mikoyan MiG-29 multirole fighter from the 1st Tactical Squadron of the Slovak Air Force (Kris Christiaens/Alamy/PA)

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked Western countries to provide fighter jets.

At a European Union summit in Brussels last month, he made a direct appeal to Mr Heger for the planes.

Slovakia grounded its MiGs in the summer due to a lack of spare parts and expertise to help maintain them after Russian technicians return home.

The Air Force of Ukraine continues to use the MiG-29.

In light of the lack of aircraft of their own, Slovakia’s NATO partner Poland and the Czech Republic have stepped up to monitor Slovakia’s airspace, which Hungary will join later this year.

Bratislava has signed a contract to buy 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets, but the delivery has been delayed by two years to early 2024.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday that his country will provide Ukraine with about a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets, starting with four Soviet-era fighter jets that will be delivered in the coming days.

Both Poland and Slovakia have previously indicated they are willing to surrender their planes, but only as part of a wider international coalition doing the same.

The debate on providing military fighter jets to non-NATO Ukraine began last year.

But NATO allies were not far behind, citing concerns about the alliance’s expanding role in the war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the promised planes were another example of NATO members “raising the level of their direct involvement in the conflict.”

“Equipment deliveries, of course, will not affect the results of the special military operation, but it can bring greater misfortune to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” he said during a conference with journalists.

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