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MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine

In March 2023, the Slovak government approved the transfer of 13 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. At the same time, it was stipulated in advance that the three delivered aircraft did not have engines. By the end of april 2023 Ukraine received four MiG-29s from Poland, and in the near future Warsaw was to transfer four more to Kyiv. In addition, the transfer to the Armed Forces of Ukraine of six more Polish MiG-29s, which are now undergoing maintenance, is being discussed. Some of the MiG-29s received by Ukraine from Poland and Slovakia are being dismantled for spare parts, as they are in non-flying condition.

Poland transferred 10 MiG-29 jet fighters to Ukraine as Kyiv prepared to launch a counteroffensive, Warsaw announced on 08 May 2023. Poland in March 2023 announced it would be sending Ukraine some of its Soviet-era fighter jets, and it transferred four early in April 2023.

Germany gave its permission 13 April 2023 for formerly East German MiG fighter jets to be sent on to Ukraine. The swift approval came just hours after Berlin said that it had received the application. Poland's formal request to Germany for permission to send five Cold War-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine has been given the green light, the German Defense Ministry confirmed.

According to German rules, the weapons that it sells require approval from Berlin if the receiving country wants to send them on to a third country. "I welcome the fact that we in the federal government have reached this decision together," Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said after the decision was made in Berlin. "This shows Germany can be relied on!" Poland had already sent eight of the jets to Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda recently said after first announcing the plan in March, but the ones they want to now deliver come from old East German stocks.

The Soviet-made planes formerly belonged to East Germany and 23 were transferred to Poland in 2002. Duda's security adviser Jacek Siewiera said that a dozen of the jets were still in Poland.

Poland was ready to send all its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine "in the future", having already pledged 14 Soviet-made planes to Kyiv, President Andrzej Duda said 05 April 2023 at a joint press conference with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky. "I think that in the future we will be able to transfer our whole remaining fleet of MiG-29 to Ukraine, if there is still such a need," Duda said of 28 MiG-29 jets in Poland's possession. Duda said the move, however, would require a green light from NATO allies as the remaining fighter jets in Poland's possession had been "adapted to NATO standards".

"We'll still need some," he said, adding that Poland would be able to pass on its old MiG-29s to Ukraine as it receives new South Korean FA-50 fighter jets and US-made F-35 stealth jets on order. The Polish leader said his country had provided four Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, four more were in the process of being handed over and another six were being prepared.

Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on 17 March 2023 that his government had agreed to deliver 13 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. The announcement came after Poland said 16 March 2023 that it would donate a dozen fighter jets to the embattled country. Russia dismissed the announcements, saying that the planes would not make a difference in the overall course of the conflict. "In the course of the special military operation all this equipment will be subject to destruction," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "It feels like all of these countries are thus engaged in the disposal of old unnecessary equipment."

Announcing the decision, Prime Minister Eduard Heger told a news conference that his government is “on the right side of history.” Earlier, Heger tweeted that military aid was key to ensuring Ukraine can defend itself and all of Europe against Russia. Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said Slovakia will receive 200 million euros ($213 million) from the European Union as compensation and unspecified arms from the United States worth 700 million euros ($745 million).

In light of the absence of its own aircraft, Slovakia’s fellow NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic have stepped up to monitor Slovak air space, with Hungary set to join later this year. Bratislava has signed a deal to buy 14 U.S. F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets, but delivery has been pushed back two years to early 2024.

President Andrzej Duda said Poland will give Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets in the coming days, a move that will make his country the first NATO member to fulfil the Ukrainian government’s increasingly urgent requests for such aircraft. Poland plans to dispatch a total of 12 Soviet-made jets, Duda said 16 March 2023. “Firstly, literally within the next few days, we will hand over, as far as I remember, four aircraft to Ukraine in full working order,” Duda said at a news conference in Warsaw with Petr Pavel, the president of the Czech Republic. The rest of the fighter jets would be supplied after necessary checks have been completed, Duda said. “[They] are being prepared, serviced,” he said. Duda said Poland’s air force would replace the planes it gives to Ukraine with South Korea-made FA-50 fighters and United States-made F-35 jets.

Poland is prepared to supply several Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on 14 March 2023. Warsaw had previously insisted it would only provide combat aircraft to Kiev within the framework of an international coalition. Speaking at a news conference, Morawiecki said the process could take between four and six weeks as Western states take a cautious approach to the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine.

Warsaw will be joined by Slovakia in delivering warplanes to Kiev after Defense Minister Jarolslav Nad agreed to participate in a joint process with Poland involving the supply of MiG-29 jets. Nad told the Associated Press that Slovakia is considering transferring ten of its 11 MiG-29s, with the last one going to a museum. The two NATO states are now calling on other bloc members to join the initiative. Poland currently has a total of 28 MiG-29 jets in active service, which it has been gradually replacing with US and South Korean-made fighters. However, it’s unclear exactly how many of the Soviet-era planes will be provided to Ukraine.

While Polish President Andrzej Duda has declared that his country will donate its entire fleet of MiG-29s, the head of the president’s office Pawel Szrot stated last week that “when it comes to the transfer of aircraft by Poland, it will not be a large number.” He added that the consignment would “certainly not” be as large as the number of tanks that have been supplied, nor even the number of Leopard tanks, of which Warsaw had so far provided 14.

Back in March 2022, in the first months of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, Washington rejected a plan to transfer Polish MiG-29 jets to Ukraine, stating the move was "too escalatory" and risked directly involving the US or a NATO ally in the conflict, potentially triggering a direct confrontation with Russia.

In April, however, the Pentagon stated that unnamed US allies had helped bolster Ukraine's fleet of fighter jets by donating unspecified “spare parts” which were supposedly used to restore many of Kiev's damaged planes. The issue of the transfer of Polish Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine was discussed in April 2022. However, according to the assurances of the Polish authorities, such supplies were not implemented, this topic is closed.

Poland sent several MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine last spring under the guise of transferring spare parts. This was reported on 26 January 2023 by the Polish edition Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. As Dziennik Gazeta Prawna notes, Warsaw handed over to Kyiv "a certain number" of MiG-29s in parts. According to Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (DGP), the planes were sent over using a “combined” method, apparently meaning that they were delivered in a disassembled state and declared as spare parts. “The fuselage and the wings are also spare parts,” DGP wrote, citing sources within the Polish government.

Zelensky said that he was counting on a solution to the issue of the supply of military aircraft from Poland, but this also depends on the United States. The President of Ukraine at a meeting on the sidelines of an emergency EU summit on 9 February 2024 with acting. Prime Minister of Slovakia Eduard Heger officially addressed Bratislava with a request to transfer to his country supersonic MiG-29 fighters withdrawn from the Slovak Air Force.

Heger assured Zelensky that Slovakia would do its best to meet the request of the President of Ukraine. This issue will be discussed in the republic and at the EU level. Assistance to Ukraine, as the Slovak politician said, "corresponds to the national interests of Slovakia and the interests of European security."

Slovakia at the end of August 2022 withdrew a MiG-29 squadron from the national air force. In the future, they should be replaced by American F-16s, the supply contract for which was signed by Slovakia.

Poland will not be in the forefront of states that can supply fighter jets to Ukraine, since Warsaw is primarily concerned about its own security. Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki announced this to journalists upon his arrival at the EU summit.

The United States would welcome the decision of its allies to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine. This was announced on 17 February 2023 at a regular briefing for journalists by the coordinator for strategic communications at the White House National Security Council, John Kirby. "We have never dictated to other partners what they can or cannot give [Kyiv]," he said. "If any of our allies and partners wants to provide fighter jets to [Ukraine] <...>, we will welcome it." . Speaking about possible US fighter deliveries, Kirby said "President [US Joe Biden] has already answered this question" and had nothing to add to what Biden said. This is how the White House representative commented on the latest statement by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki that his country could supply MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in coalition with other NATO countries, but is not ready to send F-16s, since the republic has few of them.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky at a meeting held on the sidelines of an emergency EU summit in Brussels on 09 February 2023 with Acting Prime Minister of Slovakia Eduard Heger officially addressed Bratislava with a request to transfer MiG-29 supersonic fighters to his country. Heger responded with tentative consent. The largest opposition party in Slovakia - "Direction - Social Democracy", criticized this decision. Representatives of the political force described the actions of the prime minister of the republic as "anti-constitutional." Poland can supply MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in coalition with other NATO countries, but is not ready to send F-16s, since the republic has few of them. This was stated on 17 February 2023 by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, speaking at the Munich Security Conference. Answering the question of the moderator of the discussion about whether Poland will transfer its F-16s to Ukraine, the head of the Polish government said that the republic has too few of them. "We don't have many, not many. We agree to deploy the other types of fighters that we have, along with others, as part of the NATO decision," he said. The Polish army is armed with only two types of fighters - F-16 and MiG-29. The republic has 48 F-16 fighters.

Poland is ready to supply Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets in its arsenal. This was stated 08 March 2023 by Polish President Andrzej Duda in an interview aired on Wednesday with CNN. "We are ready to transfer the MiG-29 aircraft remaining in Poland, which are in working condition and are in service with our air forces. I am sure that Ukraine will be able to use them, because Ukraine currently has pilots who can fly these machines" , - he said. Duda expressed confidence that in the future Ukraine will need to supply the F-16. "I believe that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will use the F-16 in the future. Therefore, pilot training is now so important," he added.

The US military is considering using advanced air-to-air missiles on MiG aircraft used by Ukraine. This was reported by the newspaper Politico on 7 March 2023, citing two employees of the US Department of Defense and another source. US officials are investigating whether AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missiles designed for Western fighters such as the U.S.-made F-16s could be installed on MiG aircraft used by the Ukrainian military, they said. However, according to Politico sources, there are some technical difficulties in integrating the systems.

"We maintain regular contacts <...> and will continue to consult closely with Ukraine on its security needs, <...> but for reasons of operational security, we will not discuss what actions we can take or not take in this direction ", - the newspaper quotes the words of the representative of the US defense department Garron Garne. If technical difficulties are overcome, this will be the first time that the United States will allow Ukrainian aviation to use air-to-air missiles, the newspaper writes.

On 08 March 2023, Polish President Andrzej Duda said in an interview with CNN that the country was ready to supply Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets in its arsenal. "We are ready to transfer the MiG-29 aircraft remaining in Poland, which are in working condition and are in service with our air forces. I am sure that Ukraine will be able to use them, because Ukraine currently has pilots who can fly these machines" , - he said. Duda expressed confidence that in the future Ukraine will need to supply the F-16. "I believe that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will use the F-16 in the future. Therefore, pilot training is now so important," he added.

Poland does not plan to transfer a large number of fighter jets to Ukraine. This was announced on 09 March 2023 by the head of the office of the Polish leader, Pavel Schrot, on the radio Plus. “From what I know, if we talk about the transfer of aircraft by Poland, this will not be some big number. With all confidence [I can say that] this will not be the number corresponding to the number of tanks transferred,” Schroth said. According to him, Poland intends to transfer the planes "to some kind of broad international coalition - so that Ukraine can feel real support."

Slovakia received Poland's consent to the joint transfer to Ukraine of a batch of MiG-29 aircraft, which were previously in service with the armies of both countries. Yaroslav Nagy, head of the Slovak Defense Ministry, wrote about this on his Facebook page on 09 March 2023 (banned in Russia, owned by the Meta corporation, which is recognized as extremist in the Russian Federation). “I confirm that Poland agrees that we will send MiGs to Ukraine together. At a meeting of EU defense ministers on Wednesday in Sweden, a Polish colleague confirmed to me that his country will agree to a joint procedure with the participation of Slovakia and Poland for the transfer of surplus [stocks] MiG-29s from both countries to Ukraine," Nagy said.

Ukraine declined to confirm to AFP the number of MiG-29s it has in operation, but according to the World Air Forces 2023 report by Flight Global released at the end of 2022, the country operated 43 of the aircraft. Following Poland's announcement, Ukraine said it was "grateful to our partners" though it added that "MiGs will not solve the tasks, we need F-16s". MiG-29 fighters, which Poland and Slovakia intend to transfer to Kyiv, are outdated and ineffective in the fight against cruise missiles and drones. This was stated on 17 March 2023 by the representative of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yuriy Ignat. "The Soviet equipment that we have in service, namely these MiGs, is not an effective weapon against cruise missiles and drones. Because the equipment there is obsolete - both missiles and airborne radar stations. They cannot effectively carry out these functions," - Ignat said on the air of the Rada TV channel , commenting on the plans of Poland and Slovakia to transfer the MiG-29 to Kiev. He added that Ukraine currently has five tactical fighter aviation brigades. Of these, two consist of the Su-27, three of the MiG-29. However, the potential of the Ukrainian Air Force, according to Ignat, is still insufficient to organize a counteroffensive. "I understand that everyone wants a quick counteroffensive. But these aircraft cannot significantly increase their combat potential in order to strike," he said.

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