Slovakia sends MIG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine – PM


March 17 (Reuters) – Slovakia on Friday became Ukraine’s second ally to provide MIG-29 fighter jets, which Kiev believes will be crucial in repelling Russia’s years-long invasion.

Slovakia joined Poland, which announced delivery of the planes on Thursday. Both NATO members border Ukraine.

Its fleet of 11 MiG-29 aircraft was retired last summer and most of them are no longer operational. Those that are operational are sent, and the rest is used for spare parts.

Slovakia will also deliver part of its KUB air defense system, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said.

“Today the government approved an international agreement (on the donation) and unanimously approved it,” Heger said.

“The process of handing over these fighter jets will be closely coordinated with the Polish side, Ukraine and, of course, other allies,” he said.

Slovakia receives financial compensation from the European Union. It also has an agreement with the United States for about $700 million worth of supplies of military equipment, Heger said.

NATO allies in the former communist east like Poland and Slovakia have been particularly vocal supporters of Kiev since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

On Thursday, Poland announced it would send four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming days, becoming Kiev’s first ally to provide such aircraft.

Western countries that have been supplying arms to Ukraine have so far refused to send fighter jets.

Slovakia ordered F-16 fighter jets from the US in 2018 to replace aging MiG-29 aircraft. The first US-made aircraft are due to arrive in 2024 after a delay.

Heger’s government is acting as executive until snap elections scheduled for September, which has led the opposition and even some members of the governing coalition to question whether the cabinet should be able to decide something like the MiGs.

Heger said legal experts his government consulted all said the move was legal.

Reporting by Robert Muller in Prague; Writing by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Edited by Andrew Cawthorne and Angus MacSwan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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