Poland will send four Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming days as the nation moves ahead with deliveries to bolster Kyiv’s air power, President Andrzej Duda said.
“The decision has been made” and more MiG-29 models currently under maintenance are on the way, Duda told reporters in Warsaw Thursday. The Polish government said this week that several allies had also signaled readiness to send such aircraft, with Slovakia on Wednesday saying it was prepared to dispatch MiGs.
The deliveries would cross a threshold in sending firepower to Kyiv, as many Western allies have drawn the line at sending fighter jets, citing the risk of being drawn into a direct confrontation with Moscow.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his military leadership have persistently demanded warplanes since the first days of the war as essential to driving back the Russian invasion.
Those calls were renewed this year when Western members of the trans-Atlantic alliance abandoned a political taboo and pledged battle tanks to Kyiv, raising speculation that fighter jets would be the next barrier to fall.
Duda said Poland received the aircraft from East Germany. The planes — a dozen or more at the end of their technical lifespan — will now strengthen Ukraine’s fleet of Soviet-era jets. MiG deliveries won’t jeopardize Poland’s security as the nation’s air force upgrades to Korean FA-50 and US-made F-35 combat jets, the president said.
Slovakia, whose interim government is poised to greenlight a delivery, has 13 MiG fighters in various states of readiness. They were grounded last August after the termination of a maintenance agreement with Russia. Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said last month that Ukraine would be able to add as many as eight new planes to its fleet from Slovak hardware.
No other allies have yet come forward with a contribution pledge. Other NATO members with MiG-29 jets in their inventories include Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania.
President Joe Biden’s administration signaled support for NATO allies that opted to send air power, even as the American leader has said delivering F-16 jet fighters isn’t on the table for now.
“If another nation wanted to provide fighter aircraft to Ukraine, we would certainly support that as long as that was a sovereign decision that they were comfortable making,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said late Tuesday.