Poland Will Be First NATO Member to Send Fighter Jets to Ukraine

On Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda says his country will send four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the first NATO member to do so, in a significant move in Kyiv’s battle against Russia. 

Duda said Poland has about a dozen of these fighter jets that were handed down from the German Democratic Republic in the 90s. The jets are still functional and have played a part in defense of the country’s airspace.

“In the coming days, we will hand over four planes to Ukraine, remaining machines are being serviced and prepared for handover,” he said.

Duda spoke with Czech President Petr Pavel at a news conference confirming the two countries’ support of Kyiv.

“The Czech Republic and Poland are countries that are in the absolute vanguard when it comes to supporting Ukraine, both at humanitarian and military levels,” President Duda said. 

Warsaw has taken the lead among NATO allies in supplying Kyiv with heavy weapons, and this decision has the potential to put pressure on other member states to do the same. However, the US has insisted that Poland’s announcement will not influence President Joe Biden to send F-16 aircraft, according to CNN,

“It doesn’t change our calculus with respect to F-16s,” said John Kirby, a top official at the US National Security Council. “These are sovereign decisions for any country to make, and we respect those sovereign decisions.”

In January, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz sent tanks to Ukraine, bowing to the pressure of the US, Poland, and other European nations to step up their military support for Ukraine. President Joe Biden also sent tanks which reversed the administration’s long-standing resistance to requests from Kyiv for the highly sophisticated and maintenance-heavy vehicles. 

Since the decision to supply tanks to Ukraine, there has been an urgent push from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the US to provide its F-16 fighter jets to help defeat Russian forces. However, NATO allies have expressed hesitancy arguing that the jets would be impractical because they require considerable training and Russian anti-aircraft systems could easily shoot them down. 

These sentiments were echoed by the UK government, and Germany has ruled out sending fighter jets completely. 

Poland has been and is a crucial ally of Ukraine. It is taking in more people fleeing the war in Ukraine than any other nation and is housing thousands of American troops in the midst of the largest European refugee crisis in decades.


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