Poland to Provide Ukraine with Fighter Jets, US Supports Decision
Poland is set to become the first NATO country to provide Ukraine with fighter jets since Russian invasion began last year. President Andrzej Duda announced Thursday that the first four MiG-29 warplanes will arrive in the coming days. Western governments have thus far declined to send fighter jets out of concern over escalating tensions between NATO and Russia.
The announcement marks a major first for Ukraine, which has been requesting Western-made or Soviet-era warplanes since the start of the conflict. Nations have been hesitant in their response due to a combination of escalation concerns and fears over not having enough airpower for their own national defense.
The U.S. has provided Ukraine with powerful weapons such as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and Javelin missiles and has agreed to send Kyiv M1 Abrams tanks. However, President Joe Biden has resisted authorizing sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) is also considering providing RAF Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 1 fighter aircraft to European MiG-29 operators so that the Soviet-era plane can be forwarded to Ukraine.
John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council spokesman, has said the White House supports Poland’s decision to provide Ukraine with MiG fighter jets. He added that Washington would encourage other countries to help Ukraine however they can, and if any other country takes the same sovereign decision to send fighter jets to Ukraine the U.S. will support it.
Poland is a crucial ally in the Ukraine crisis, hosting thousands of American troops and taking in more people fleeing the war in Ukraine than any other nation. Warsaw, being one of Ukraine's strongest backers, has been instrumental in convincing other allies to supply Kyiv with advanced weaponry, even when they may have been hesitant.
The deliveries would cross a threshold in sending firepower to Kyiv, as many Western allies have drawn the line at delivering fighter jets, citing the risk of being drawn into a direct confrontation with Moscow. The aging aircraft don’t meet the standard of more modern F-16s or similar models Kyiv has craved most, but MiG shipments could add to Ukraine’s fleet with operational jets or spare parts for its own damaged stock.
Slovakia has also said it would send its disused MiGs to Ukraine to replace losses to Kyiv's current stocks.
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