Poland was the driving force behind the coalition to deliver tanks to Ukraine, and now it has turned its attention to providing MiG-29 fighter planes to Ukraine.
President Andrzej Duda has announced that a government decision has now been taken and the provision of the first four MiG-29 jets to Ukraine is expected in a matter of days. He added that more will be on the way once the process of servicing and maintenance is complete.
The Polish president said that Poland’s security would not be affected by the decision, as Poland was already in the process of replacing the MiG-29 jets with Korean FA-50 planes and U.S. F-35s. Since the Ukrainians already fly MiGs, they will be able to use them immediately after the handover without any need for training.
Last week in an interview with CNN, Duda signaled Poland’s readiness to hand over the MIG-29 jets so that Ukraine could use them immediately. He noted that Poland has handed over hundreds of post-Soviet tanks. However, when it came to MIG-29s, the number would be much lower, which was also the case regarding the Leopard tanks Poland provided Ukraine, in order to ensure that Polish national security was not affected.
In an interview with Polish radio on Thursday, Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak admitted that he had spoken to the Slovak defense minister with regard to a joint effort to hand over MiG fighter jets to Ukraine. He added that a wider coalition was being pursued, as was the case for the delivery of Leopard tanks and Patriot missile launchers.
Back in March of last year, there had been reports that Poland would hand over its MIG-29 planes. However, the matter did not come to fruition, as Poland’s demands that this be a joint NATO decision and that it be compensated with more modern planes to guard its territory were not met. In addition, the U.S. at that stage was reluctant to escalate the conflict, as they were engaged in persuading China to put pressure on Russia to desist from threatening to use nuclear weapons.
The Polish president also met the newly elected Czech President Petr Pavel during his state visit to Poland. Pavel decided to visit Poland second after visiting neighbor Slovakia in order to emphasize how committed he is to close cooperation with the Poles.
At a joint press conference, the two presidents agreed that it was in the interests of both countries for Ukraine to become a member of the EU, and that this would be a great opportunity for all economies engaged in that process.