Slovakia agrees to give Ukraine a fleet of Soviet military aircraft. WGN Radio 720

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — The Slovak government on Friday approved a plan to hand over 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, following a Ukrainian government plea for fighters to help defend against a Russian aggression. became the second NATO member to listen. .

Prime Minister Eduardo Hager said at a press conference announcing the decision that his government was “on the right side of history”. Earlier, Heger tweeted that military aid was key to enabling Ukraine to defend itself and all of Europe from Russia.

Poland announced on Thursday that it would hand over about a dozen MiG-29s to Ukraine. Poland and Slovakia have previously indicated they were willing to accept Ukrainian military aircraft requests, but only as part of the broader United Nations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the promised plane was another example of NATO member states “raising the level of direct involvement in the conflict.”

“Delivery of equipment will not, of course, affect the outcome of the special military operation, but it can bring more misfortunes to Ukraine and the people of Ukraine,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. .

Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said Slovakia would receive €200 million ($213 million) in compensation from the European Union and weapons worth €700 million ($745 million) from the United States.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked Western powers for fighter jets, but NATO allies have held back, citing concerns about the alliance’s escalating role in the war.

In response to Poland’s announcement on Thursday, the White House explained its own position that the Warsaw move had nothing to do with President Joe Biden, who is resisting calls to provide US F-16s to Ukraine. He said it was up to other countries to do so.

Zelensky sued Heger directly for the aircraft at the EU summit in Brussels last month.

Slovakia grounded MiGs in the summer after Russian engineers returned home due to a lack of spare parts and expertise to help with maintenance. With no domestic aircraft, her fellow NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic intervened to monitor Slovak airspace.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine had dozens of MiG-29s it inherited from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but after more than a year of fighting, several have been destroyed. It is unknown if he remains in active service.

The Slovak government, which has decided to sign a bilateral agreement with Ukraine on jets, has limited powers after the coalition formed after the country’s elections in 2020 was overthrown in a no-confidence vote in December. Do not have.

The next elections are scheduled for September, and the opposition has a good chance of winning. Its leaders include former populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, who opposes military aid to Ukraine and EU sanctions against Russia, saying the Slovak government has no authority to deliver fighter jets to Ukraine. .

Slovakia has signed a deal to purchase 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets, but delivery has been delayed by two years until early 2024.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: Slovakia agrees to give Ukraine a fleet of Soviet military aircraft. WGN Radio 720

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