Polônia entregará inicialmente quatro caças MiG-29 à Ucrânia. Na foto, uma aeronave MiG-29 da Força Aérea polonesa durante um evento no aeroporto em Radom, em 24 de agosto de 2013. REUTERS - Kacper Pempel

Nearly 13 months after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland will officially become the first country to send combat aircraft to Kiev. The Polish president announced that Warsaw will deliver four Soviet-made MiG-29-type jets in the coming days. The Polish decision once again raises pressure on Western partners, but it may need Germany’s permission.

(RFI) Poland’s consignment should not stop at just these four aircraft. Polish President Andrzej Duda said Thursday (16) that this first batch, to be shipped “in the coming days,” should be followed by more deliveries of these MiG-29s inherited from the former East Germany in the 1990s.

Duda said that Poland has “a dozen” of these Soviet-made fighters from former East German stocks, without specifying exactly how many. But he stressed that the other jets first have to undergo an overhaul before they head to Kiev.

The Polish head of state emphasized that “MiGs are still in service in the Polish Air Force” and that most of them are in a “fully operational” state.

In all, Poland is reported to have 28 MiG-29 aircraft, which are in the process of being replaced by FA-50 aircraft, ordered by Warsaw from South Korea, as well as F-35s purchased from the United States. These more modern fighters should arrive in Poland by the middle of the second half of the year.

Warsaw Hopes for “Larger Coalition

Officially, Poland will become the first country to send fighters to Ukraine. But Germany had already sent spare parts for the Ukrainian fleet of MiG-29 aircraft. In addition, there are rumors, unconfirmed, that North Macedonia would have supplied Kiev with four SU-25-type jets.

Still, Poland takes the lead from Ukraine’s Western allies once again, and hopes that other countries will soon follow suit. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said yesterday that his country wants to send the MiG-29s “within the framework of a larger coalition of countries.” He directly cited Slovakia, but assured that Warsaw is confident that other countries will also join the Polish initiative.

Slovakia stated last year that it was open to a discussion about sending MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine. In contrast, it has so far not made a final decision on the matter.

Washington Supports the Decision

Shortly after the Russian invasion began, Poland had suggested sending MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine. At the time, the US Defense Ministry assessed the option as too risky, saying that the move could be perceived by Russia as NATO’s entry into the conflict. This time, Washington said it supports the Polish decision, but maintains its decision not to send modern American F-16 fighter jets, as requested by the government in Kiev.

Unlike the F-16s, the MiG-29s have the advantage that they are already in the Kiev fleet. As a result, Ukrainian pilots do not need to be trained to use the jets. The disadvantage of this model is the technological lag in relation to the fighters in the Russian air force.

As a neighbor of Ukraine, Poland has been especially affected by the consequences of the war. This is why it is quite determined in its intention to help Kiev by all available means.

Polish Pressure Forces German Reaction

The Polish tactic has had an effect before, especially as far as Germany is concerned. It was Warsaw’s decisions that led Berlin to give up its resistance against sending Patriot anti-aircraft systems.

In the case of sending tanks, it was also Poland that took the lead, pressuring the German government to give up its resistance against the supply of battle armor. Warsaw was the one to send the first Leopard-2 tanks, prompting Berlin not only to authorize the supply of German-made tanks, but also to send its own battle tanks of the same series.

The German authorities reacted, as usual, in a reserved manner to the Polish announcement. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he had not been officially informed by Poland about sending the fighters to Ukraine.

He also said he had no confirmation that the aircraft are from former East German stocks. If this detail is confirmed, the German government may have to give its authorization for the shipment to Kiev to take place. Asked about this possibility, the minister declined, saying he prefers to avoid answering “purely hypothetical questions.

By admin