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Poland and Slovakia to Gift NATO Fighter Jets to Ukraine Amid Escalating Tensions

Poland is set to become the first NATO country to provide fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming days, with President Andrzej Duda announcing on Thursday that four MiG-29 planes are being readied for delivery.[0] This marks a significant increase in military support for Kyiv, as tensions between the country and Russia continue to escalate.[1]

The US Department of Defense released a video showing the moments before a Russian fighter jet crashed into a US Reaper drone after spraying it with jet fuel on Tuesday morning over the Black Sea.[2] The video showed the Su-27 Flanker jet making two exceptionally close passes of the un-crewed drone, releasing a plume of fuel, a harassment tactic that US experts say has not been seen before.[3]

Slovakia has also offered to donate 13 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, making it the second NATO member to announce such a shipment after Poland.[4] The Kremlin responded by saying that all fighter jets supplied to Ukraine by Western nations would be destroyed, and warned that they would not change Russia's military aims.[5]

The US has refused to provide F-16s to Ukraine, saying it would take too long to train Ukrainian pilots on them and require too much maintenance and logistical support during an ongoing conflict.[6] The UK, however, has offered air cover for any eastern European country willing to supply Kyiv with Soviet-era jets.[1]

China’s President Xi Jinping is expected to travel to Russia next week for talks with President Vladimir Putin, and may speak to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy afterward.[7] Kyiv's allies rejected China's February proposals for peace in Ukraine, as the plans seemed to favor Russia.[7]

Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is currently investigating the possibility of supplying Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 1 fighter jets to European MiG-29 operators, so the Soviet-era aircraft can, in turn, be gifted to Ukraine.[8]

Poland has about 28 MiG-29s and has been replacing them with more advanced U.S.-made planes, with hopes to purchase cutting-edge F-35s.[6] In 2018, the Slovakian government signed an order with the US to purchase 14 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 jets, which would replace the nation's existing MiG-29 fleet.[8]

0. “Slovakia agrees to give Ukraine fleet of Soviet warplanes” WMUR Manchester, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.wmur.com/article/slovakia-agrees-to-give-ukraine-fleet-of-soviet-warplanes/43346921

1. “Poland to deliver fighter jets to Ukraine in major escalation of military backing” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/16/ukraine-poland-fighter-jets-mig-29

2. “Latest updates: Inquiry accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine” Al Jazeera English, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/liveblog/2023/3/16/russia-ukraine-live-no-signs-kyiv-will-leave-bakhmut-russia

3. “Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 387 of the invasion” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/russia-ukraine-war-at-a-glance-what-we-know-on-day-387-of-the-invasion

4. “Russia pledges to destroy fighter jets sent to Ukraine” RTE.ie, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.rte.ie/news/2023/0317/1363763-ukraine/

5. “Ukraine war – latest news: Slovakia to send Kyiv Soviet jets as Xi set to meet Putin” The Independent, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ukraine-poland-china-russia-meeting-drone-jets-b2302869.html

6. “Poland will send fighter jets to Ukraine, the first NATO country to do so” MPR News, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.mprnews.org/story/2023/03/16/poland-will-send-fighter-jets-to-ukraine-the-first-nato-country-to-do-so

7. “Ukraine Latest: Poland to Send Soviet-Era Jets; US Drone Video” Yahoo News, 17 Mar. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-latest-eu-broaden-efforts-090307605.html

8. “To help Ukraine, UK explores supplying Eurofighter Typhoons to European MiG-29 operators” Breaking Defense, 14 Mar. 2023, https://breakingdefense.com/2023/03/to-help-ukraine-uk-explores-supplying-eurofighter-typhoons-to-european-mig-29-operators

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