Slovakia to Give Fighter Jets to Ukraine

March 17, 2023

Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced Friday that Slovakia plans to give Ukraine its fleet of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets.

Heger said in announcing the government’s approval that Slovakia was “on the right side of history.” Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister had tweeted that military aid was the key to ensure Ukraine can defend itself and the entirety of Europe against Russia.

“Promises must be kept,” he wrote, stating that when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for more weapons, “I said we’ll do our best.” 

Slovakia is now the second NATO nation to donate fighter jets to Ukraine’s war against Russia. On Thursday President Andrzej Duda announced Poland would be donating MiG-29s to Ukraine—four jets immediately and another 10 to 15 once some servicing is done on the rest of the cache.

The jets from Poland are “in the last years of their functioning, but they are in good working condition,” Duda said.

Slovakia had grounded its MiG jets this past summer due to a lack of spare parts and expertise to help maintain them after Russian technicians returned home. 

Ukraine’s air force continues to use MiG-29s and would be able to use the donated jets right away. 

The European Union is set to fund Slovakia with the equivalent of $213 million as compensation for the jets, and the U.S. is supplying Slovia with roughly $745 million worth of unspecified arms, according to Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad. 

In the meantime, fellow NATO nations Poland and the Czech Republic have stepped up to monitor Slovak air space. Hungary is set to contribute to monitoring Slovak air later this year. 

Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked Western countries for fighter jets. He appealed directly to Heger for aircraft at a European Union summit in Brussels last month.

The debate over whether to provide non-NATO member Ukraine with fighter jets had been going on for months. Initially the member nations held off, citing concern about escalating NATO’s role in the war.

In February President Biden ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine “for now.”

PHOTO source: Artem Katranzhi

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