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Poland to supply Ukraine with fighter jets

| 2023-03-16 2 min read

Poland to supply Ukraine with fighter jets

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Poland will send Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets in the coming days, with more to follow later, according to an announcement by Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday, 16 March. 

The move will make Poland the first NATO member country to fulfil the Ukrainian government’s increasingly urgent requests for warplanes. Reports earlier in the week suggested the Soviet-era fighter jets could be sent in four to six weeks.

US, UK more dovish than Poland, Slovakia on fighter jets

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly said his country needs jets to effectively fight back against the full-scale invasion that it made in Ukraine on 24 February 2022. However, Western nations remain unwilling to provide Ukraine with fighter jets, despite the clear advantage they would bring.

Both the UK and US have ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, amid fears of escalating the conflict and being viewed by Russia as NATO countries entering the war by proxy. Poland has been among the most active allies pushing for more arms to be supplied to Ukraine.

Poland will hand over four older Soviet-era MiG-29s in an opening gambit. Duda did not say if other countries would be making the same move, although Slovakia’s acting Prime Minister Eduard Heger has said he would like the country to send its disused MiGs to Ukraine.  

Duda said Poland, which has already sent 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, has between ten and twenty MiG-29 jets. The Polish president earlier said Ukraine will need “modern planes, fighter jets in the future” but that this is not viable in the short term because Ukrainian pilots require training.

New Czech premier visits Frontex, joint-US defence facility in Poland

Later on Thursday, Duda welcomed to Warsaw new Czech President Petr Pavel, who assumed office on 9 March after a comfortable election victory in late January. Duda said after Pavel’s “natural visit to Czech brothers”, he was happy to hold talks with him in Poland.

“This is a good sign towards building our relationships. Poland and Czechia take similar positions on issues crucial to Europe’s security. One of the topics of the conversation was the current situation in the region, mutual cooperation and assistance to Ukraine,” Duda wrote on Facebook.

The Czech and Polish leaders will also discuss the development of economic ties. Pavel was also scheduled to meet on Thursday with the Speakers of Poland’s two legislative chambers Elzbieta Witek and Tomasz Grodzki, and then Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki the following morning.

Czech officials confirmed that Pavel will also visit the headquarters of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex in Warsaw on Friday. After which he will travel to Rzeszow, south Poland, to observe the operation of the US-Polish logistics hub for aid to Ukraine.

Poland’s Presidential Office for International Policy head Marcin Przydacz emphasised that Pavel’s experience as a diplomat and military officer mean that Russian aggression against Ukraine and preparations for the NATO summit in Vilnius in July would be “natural conversation topics”.