Slovakia restrained over Polish call to give MiGs to the US for Ukraine

It is not an issue to be communicated through injudicious press releases, Slovak defence minister said.

Slovakia's MiG-29 fighter jets. Slovakia's MiG-29 fighter jets. (Source: TASR)

The Polish government declared on March 8 that it was ready to move its MiG-29s to the military base in Ramstein, Germany, and put them at the disposal of the US troops there. They in turn asked the Americans to provide their used fighter jets with similar parameters; Poland is ready to agree on conditions to purchase these jets.

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The Polish government has called on the NATO countries who also operate MiGs to do the same. Slovakia is one of them.

Based on some media reports, including in the Financial Times on Sunday, Americans would pass the MiGs on to Ukraine.

"These ongoing consultations are a subject of non-public talks directly between allies and they definitely should not be communicated through injudicious press releases," Slovakia's Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) reacted when asked about the Polish call on March 8.

The Ukrainian government has been pushing for NATO to introduce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, or at least provide fighter jets to the Ukrainian military to fight Russian aggression.

The United States, however, called Poland's request "a surprise offer."

"To my knowledge, it wasn't pre-consulted with us that they planned to give these planes to us," State Department Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing as quoted by the Reuters newswire.

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The United States has sought to speed up weapon deliveries to Ukraine. But the prospect of flying combat aircraft from NATO territory into the war zone "raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance," the Pentagon said, as quoted by Reuters.

"We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one," said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

The operation of Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets and the presence of the Russian servicemen for the machines in Slovakia have been a concern, increasingly so after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Slovak government admitted last week that they were looking for ways to ground the MiGs earlier than the planned 2023 deadline and send the Russian technicians home.

Defence Minister Naď, however, rejected the notion that Slovakia give its MiGs to Ukraine.

Before giving up the MiGs, Slovakia needs to resolve the issue of who will protect its airspace. The government said they were in talks with "a geographically close ally", which could be Poland or Czechia, to protect Slovakia's skies. Slovakia expects the delivery of the American F-16 fighter jets it purchased three years ago by 2023.

Related article Allied troops to come sooner. It means bigger players will not sacrifice small countries like Slovakia Read more 

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