Vice-President of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine Olena Kondratiuk thanked President Andrzej Duda for the decision to hand over MiG-29 aircraft to the Ukrainian army, expressing hope that other countries would follow in Poland’s footsteps.
“Poland will hand over four MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine in full working condition! This will happen in the coming days”, declared President Andrzej Duda, according to Kondratiuk, cited on Thursday on the Supreme Council’s Facebook profile.
🇺🇦🇵🇱Poland will hand over 4 fully operational MiG-29 fighters to🇺🇦! This will happen in the coming days, said the President of Poland @AndrzejDuda
We hope-this decisive act&example of real contribution to protection of🇺🇦sky will be followed by other countries! Many thanks to🇵🇱! pic.twitter.com/JEkLd4WpX1
— Olena Kondratiuk (@Ole_Kondratiuk) March 16, 2023
“We believe and expect that other countries that have such aircraft will follow this decisive action and the example of a real application to defend the Ukrainian sky. Thank you, Mr. President! Thank you brothers and sisters Poles!” exclaimed the deputy speaker of the parliament of Ukraine.
President Andrzej Duda had announced earlier on Thursday that Poland would hand over four MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine in the coming days, while the others will be prepared and in time handed over.
Breaking news: Poland says it will send Ukraine fighter jets, the first NATO country to provide long-sought warplanes https://t.co/cRQHtV6XoN pic.twitter.com/8T8JBwQtxT
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 16, 2023
“In the coming days, we are handing over four planes in full working order, the rest are being serviced, prepared and will probably be handed over successively,” Duda affirmed after a conversation with Czech President Petr Pavel in Warsaw.
“Such a decision was first made by us jointly at the level of the highest national authorities, then the government adopted a special resolution in this matter,” he reminded us.
Duda then added “we still have a dozen of these MiGs in stock at the moment”, the planes are operational and are still used to supervise Polish airspace, but “these are the last years of their usage”.
He noted how the MiGi-29 are “fighters that today are able to be operated by Ukrainian pilots without any additional training.”
“We will successively transfer (them) to the disposal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he then announced.
He also reminded that fighter jets produced in the USSR are to be replaced by Korean FA-50 and American F-35 aircraft ordered by the Polish army.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the transfer of Polish MiGs to Ukraine could take place within the next four to six weeks.
President Duda declared his readiness to hand over these planes to Ukraine last Wednesday in an interview with CNN.
Polish President Andrzej Duda tells CNN that Poland is willing to transfer all its MiG-29 fighter jets to the Ukrainian Air Force.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) March 8, 2023
“We are ready to deliver these planes, and I am sure that Ukraine would be ready to use them immediately,” the president said.
The head of the president’s office, Paweł Szrot, added a day later that “it will not be a large number”, and with this in mind, Poland is ready to act as part of a wider international coalition.
The head of the Ministry of National Defence, Deputy Prime Minister Mariusz Błaszczak assured that “there is full unity between the president and the government” as to the MiG-29 aircraft.
Early in March, the Minister of Defense of Slovakia, Jaroslav Nad’, had already mentioned the possibility of handing the Soviet-made fighters to Ukraine.
Prior to having lost a number of machines as a result of air accidents and catastrophes on the ground between 2016-2021, Poland had 32 MiG-29 fighters. Twelve were purchased in 1989 from the USSR, Poland received 10 in 1995 from the Czech Republic in exchange for 11 W-3 Sokół helicopters, and Poland also received 22 such aircraft from Germany, of which 11 entered service.
More military aid from Estonia
The Estonian government approved another military aid package for Ukraine on Thursday. The new package consists of sniper weapons and other equipment for special units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The value of the latest support tranche is almost EUR 500,000.
The aid package includes semi-automatic rifles, scopes, binoculars, ammunition, individual and special equipment, patrol boats and thermal imaging cameras.
New aid package to 🇺🇦 on its way.
🇪🇪 government supported my proposal to send to Ukraine equipment for special forces and snipers. We are with Ukraine! @oleksiireznikov @Mariana_Betsa @OlekKorn
— Hanno Pevkur (@HPevkur) March 16, 2023
“We discussed aid to Ukraine with allies on Wednesday and it is clear that we cannot delay it any longer. Our main proposal to the European Union is the joint acquisition of one million artillery shells, but we must also continue to provide smaller, precisely targeted aid packages,” said Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.
Estonia has so far provided Ukraine with military aid amounting to more than one percent of the country’s GDP. As a result Kyiv was supplied with Javelin missiles, howitzers, anti-tank mines and grenade launchers. On Thursday, during a meeting in Tallinn with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas reiterated the need to quickly arm Ukraine and accelerate production of ammunition by the European defense industry.
Fighter jets from Denmark?
The head of the Danish government was questioned during a conference on social reforms in Copenhagen on whether Denmark would follow Poland in deciding to provide Ukraine with combat aircraft.
I går præsenterede Regeringen og et bredt flertal i Folketinget en ny Ukrainefond på 7 mia. kr. i 2023.
Læs mere om fonden her: https://t.co/JdkCtTREBq pic.twitter.com/XgkBKoAVmb
— Denmark MFA 🇩🇰 (@DanishMFA) March 16, 2023
“Among the allies, we are talking about the possibility of sending fighters to Ukraine. This is the great wish of Ukrainians who are resisting the Russian invasion of their country,” answered the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday.
The Royal Danish Air Force is in possession of 33 F-16A fighters.
In late February, Denmark’s defense minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, assured in an interview with Danish Radio DR that his country “could provide Ukraine with fighter jets if other countries do the same.” According to Poulsen, this would require very thorough preparation, training, and maintenance of aircraft.
Ukraine appeals to form an “aircraft coalition”
The commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, General Mykola Oleshchuk, appealed to high-ranking military officers from NATO countries to create an “air coalition” modeled on the earlier “tank coalition”.
"I am appealing to you to step up efforts to provide the 🇺🇦Air Force with modern multi-purpose fighters of the fourth generation, which are capable of effectively protecting our country from🇷🇺air terrorist strikes."- commander of the Air Force, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk pic.twitter.com/8Ghorffz0z
— Ukrainian Air Force (@KpsZSU) March 16, 2023
“Thanks to this initiative, we could receive modern combat aircraft,” said Yuri Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian military aviation on Thursday.
The Ukrainian side had made this proposal during Thursday’s talks between NATO air force commanders, where General Oleszczuk was also present. The concept of an “air coalition” was presented under the slogan: “Victory in the air is forged on land”, Ihnat reported, and quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine agency.
“We have asked for support in providing us with modern aircraft so that we can take control of the airspace over Ukraine as soon as possible and help our land forces,” the spokesman said.
Combat flight of a pilot MiG-29 of the Ukrainian Air Force 🇺🇦😎 pic.twitter.com/ud7DEFXo9A
— Ukrainian Air Force (@KpsZSU) March 16, 2023
Since the beginning of Russian aggression on Ukraine, the authorities in Kyiv have been appealing to Western partners to either close the airspace over Ukraine or to hand over combat aircraft to the beleaguered country.
On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister, head of the Ministry of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak announced that Poland would be prepared to offer Ukraine MiG-29 fighters, but would intend to do so as part of a broader coalition. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced MiG deliveries could “take place within the next four to six weeks”.
At the end of January, Germany declared the transfer of its Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv and also agreed to the delivery of the vehicles by other countries such as Poland, Norway, Canada, and Spain. This initiative has now become known as the “tank coalition” led by the Polish government in convincing U.S. and European partners to join in.