Polish President Andrzej Duda said Thursday that his country would become the first NATO member nation to supply fighter jets to Ukraine.
Poland is set to give Ukraine about a dozen Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets, of which Duda said his country would hand over the first four “within the next few days.”
He added that the rest of the jets need servicing and will be supplied later. In total, Duda used a Polish word that means “between 11 and 19” to describe how many jets Warsaw would be sending, which he said were “in the last years of their functioning, but they are in good working condition.”
Ukraine’s air force is familiar with MiG-29s and would be able use the jets right away.
Duda did not say if other countries planned to follow Poland’s lead. One Wednesday, though, Polish government spokesperson Piotr Mueller said some other countries had also pledged to send MiGs to Ukraine, though he did not specify which, or when. However, NATO member nation Slovakia has indicated that it has plans to send its disused MiGs.
Despite ramped-up pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in February President Biden ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine “for now.”
After a standoff between the U.S. and Germany over supplying Ukraine with tanks, Poland became the first country to donate some from their own cache—German-made Leopard 2 tanks. The U.S. and Germany have both since pledged dozens of tanks to Ukraine.
President Biden visited Ukraine and Poland the week of February 24 to mark one year since Russia invaded. During his trip to Warsaw, Biden praised the people of Poland for having taken in 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees.
“Poland’s generosity, your willingness to open your homes is extraordinary,” said Biden.
Poland is also hosting thousands of American troops, and Polish and U.S. officials have recently been in talks about increasing troop levels as the Ukraine-Russia war enters into its second year.