Fighter jets are coming as soon as possible, Poland tells Ukraine – POLITICO
Poland will deliver four Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine “in the coming days”, President Andrzej Duda said Thursday.
Poland is the first country to formally commit to sending fighter jets to Ukraine, which Kiev says it urgently needs to repel the Russian invasion, which has turned into a brutal war of attrition in the eastern Donbass region.
“We will hand over four fully operational aircraft,” Duda said at a joint press conference with Czech President Petr Pavel, according to French newswire AFP.
Additional planes that are “currently under maintenance” will be “gradually handed over”, Duda added, and Poland will replace the MiGs with US-made F-35s and South Korean FA-50 fighters.
After convincing its Western allies to supply Ukraine with dozens of tanks after a months-long diplomatic marathon, kyiv has been lobbying its partners intensively in recent weeks to send modern fighter jets.
While touring European capitals last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeatedly called on the UK and France to provide modern aircraft to bolster his country’s aging air force, which is mostly made up of Soviet-era aircraft.
Yet Kyiv’s allies have been reluctant to hand over the latest generation of fighter jets, such as the US F-16s, for fear it will only serve to further escalate the conflict.
So far, the UK has started training Ukrainian pilots as a ‘first step’ towards sending jets, while the US has hosted two pilots at a US airbase to assess their flying skills, but won’t let them fly American F-16s.
Meanwhile, countries like France and the Netherlands have expressed openness to the idea, but have avoided making formal commitments.
The Polish government – one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022 – had already signaled its intention to send in jets in recent days.