Poland wants to grant Ukraine’s request for fighter jets

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Poland’s president said on Thursday his country plans to give Ukraine about a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets, making it the first NATO member to comply with Ukraine’s government’s increasingly urgent demands fighter planes met.

President Andrzej Duda said Poland will hand over four of the Soviet-made fighter jets “within the next few days” and the rest will have to be serviced and delivered later. The Polish word he used to describe their number can mean between 11 and 19.

“They are in their last few years of being operational, but they are in good operating condition,” Duda said of the aircraft.

Duda didn’t say whether other countries would take the same step, although Slovakia has said it will send its end-of-life MiGs to Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said some other countries with MiGs had also pledged them to Kiev, but he did not name them.

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Western supporters to share fighter jets, NATO allies have expressed reluctance.

Prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s, which it inherited when the Soviet Union collapsed, but it’s unclear how many of these are still in service after more than a year of combat.

The debate over whether to supply non-NATO country Ukraine with fighter jets began over a year ago, but NATO has been wary of escalating the war.

Duda announced this during a joint press conference in Warsaw with visiting Czech President Petr Pavel.

Duda said the Polish Air Force will replace the planes it is giving to Ukraine with South Korean-made FA-50 fighters and American-made F-35s.

Poland also became the first NATO country to hand over German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine last month.

Poland is an important ally in the Ukraine crisis. It is home to thousands of American troops and is taking in more people fleeing the war in Ukraine than any other nation amid Europe’s biggest refugee crisis in decades.

It has suffered from invasions and occupations by Russia for centuries and, despite being a member, still fears Russia Nato.

Source : www.washingtontimes.com

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