Slovakia to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine

(Reuters) – Slovakia became Ukraine’s second ally on Friday to supply MIG-29 fighter jets, which Kiev sees as essential to repel a more than years-long Russian offensive.

Bratislava thus joined Poland, which on Thursday announced the delivery of four MIG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, which the two countries, which are also members of NATO, are neighbors of.

Slovakia’s fleet of 11 MiG-29 aircraft was decommissioned last summer and most of the aircraft are not operational. The Slovak government will send the machines ready for use and the rest will be used as spare parts.

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

“Today the government made a decision and unanimously approved an international agreement (on the donation),” said Eduard Heger.

“The process of upgrading these fighter jets is closely coordinated with Poland, Ukraine and of course other partners,” he said.

Slovakia will receive financial compensation from the European Union. Eduard Heger said that he reached an agreement with the United States on the delivery of military equipment worth about $700 million.

NATO allies in the former communist Eastern European bloc, such as Poland and Slovakia, have been staunch supporters of Kiev since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

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

Slovakia ordered the F-16 fighter jets from the US in 2018 to replace aging MiG-29s. After some delays, the first aircraft made in the United States is expected to arrive in 2024.

For its part, Moscow reacted on Friday by saying that fighters sent to Ukraine by countries in Eastern Europe would be destroyed and that nothing would change during the conflict.

(Reporting by Robert Müller in Prague, Writing by Anna Wlodarczak-Semjuk; French edition edited by Blandine Heinault, Lena Golovnya)

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