BRATISLAVA: Slovakia will donate 13 MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine, Slovakia’s prime minister said on Friday, becoming the second NATO member to announce such a shipment after a similar move by Poland.
“We will hand over 13 of our MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine,” Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger told reporters, adding that Bratislava would also deliver a Kub air defense system to Ukraine.
“We are giving these MiGs to Ukraine so that it can protect civilians from the many bombs that are falling on their houses and that are the reason why people are dying in Ukraine,” Heger said.
Ukraine has long sought fighter jets from Western allies, though it primarily wants modern American-made F-16s.
“Our steps are fully coordinated with Poland and Ukraine,” Heger said, adding that his government “stands on the right side of history.”
Poland will be the first NATO member to send fighter jets to Ukraine
He said Slovakia will receive compensation for the donation from the European Peace Fund, the EU’s Ukrainian fund.
“There is also a bilateral offer from the US regarding a certain military system to be donated to Slovakia, the value of which to the Slovak Republic will be approximately $700 million,” Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said, without giving details.
“We are talking about a total of 900 million (euros),” he added.
The Kremlin responded on Friday that fighter jets given to Ukraine by Poland and Slovakia would be destroyed and reiterated that Western arms shipments to Kiev would not change Russia’s military goals.
“The supply of this military equipment – as we have repeatedly said – will not change the outcome of the special military operation… Of course, all this equipment will be destroyed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, using the official term for the army of Moscow. intervention.
Polish President Andrzej Duda announced Thursday that Warsaw will send four Soviet-made MiG-29 jets to Ukraine “in the coming days.”
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“Do more to help”
Estonia, a staunch supporter of Ukraine, on Friday welcomed the decision to send the planes.
“Slovakia and Poland are showing excellent leadership by sending the requested fighter jets to Ukraine,” the Estonian Ministry of Defense said on Twitter.
“We need to do more to help Ukraine win and defeat the aggressor,” it added.
Nad said the transfer of MiGs from Slovakia to Kiev would take “several weeks”.
The Slovak batch will include 10 operational MiG-29 fighter jets and an additional three that have been out of service since 2008.
“At least three planes will be used only as spare parts,” General Daniel Zmeko, Chief of the General Staff of the Slovak Armed Forces, told reporters.
Slovakia has another MiG-29 which will be housed in a military museum at home.
The country plans to replace the planes with American F-16s. The change should happen by January 2024 at the latest.
Slovakia decided last year to stop using its MiGs because they were dependent on Russian technicians and companies.
The Czech Republic and Poland have been protecting its airspace ever since.