EU country approves fighter jets for Ukraine – RT World News
Slovakia sends Soviet-era planes to kyiv, amid Western reluctance to supply US-made F-16s
The Slovak government has unanimously approved the supply of Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets and a Kub air defense system to Ukraine, acting Prime Minister Eduard Heger has announced.
The delivery will also include spare parts for equipment and missiles, Heger said at a press conference on Friday.
“Our government is on the right side of history” by providing Kiev with much-needed warplanes in the conflict with Russia, he said. Heger, who lost a vote of no confidence late last year, remains in charge of the cabinet until a snap election in September.
According to the acting prime minister, the jets, which were designed in the USSR in the 1970s, will be used by Ukraine for purely defensive purposes, including to intercept Russian missiles targeting military installations and energy infrastructure in the country.
Bratislava will be compensated for the planes by the EU through its European Peace Facility funding mechanism, he added. The Ministry of Defense said earlier this week that the country would receive 200 million euros ($212 million) from Brussels.
Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad told the press conference that Slovakia will eventually send ten MiGs with engines and three more aircraft without engines to Ukraine. kyiv has trained pilots to fly the Soviet-era planes and a facility to maintain and repair them, he said.
Slovakia retired its fleet of MiG-29s last summer, with most planes not in serviceable condition, according to Reuters.
Heger also rejected claims by his political rival and former prime minister, Robert Fico, who warned that delivering planes to the neighboring country could drag Slovakia into the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Bratislava is part of NATO, with planes being supplied to kyiv in coordination with Poland and other allies, he explained.
On Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that Warsaw would provide four “fully operational” MiG-29 in Kyiv “in the coming days.” A dozen planes will eventually be delivered, he added.
Shortly after, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yury Ignat said the Soviet-made planes were “unlikely to drastically change the situation on the line of contact.” According to Ignat, kyiv needs American F-16 fighter jets, which the United States and its allies have so far been reluctant to provide.
Speaking about MiG-29 deliveries to Kiev on Friday, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov warned that the planes will be destroyed by Russian forces, just like other weapons sent to the country. Peskov also said he felt Western countries were simply using Ukraine to “get rid of old equipment they no longer need.”
The Russian Embassy in Slovakia reacted to Heger’s announcement saying that the transfer of planes to Kyiv was “illegal,” as Bratislava needed Moscow’s approval for such a move in accordance with bilateral agreements. The arrival of MiG-29s in Ukraine could “lead to an unpredictable and dangerous escalation of the conflict, and those who initiated this decision will bear full responsibility.”
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