The President of Poland Andrzej Duda has announced that his country will send Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets, marking the first time a NATO country has fulfilled Kyiv's request for such aircraft. Ukraine says that fighter jets are essential if they are to defeat Russia and de-occupy all currently occupied territories.
Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday (16 March) with the newly inaugurated Czech President Petr Pavel, Duda said "firstly, literally within the next few days, we will hand over, as far as I remember, four aircraft to Ukraine in full working order."
Poland has around a dozen of the Soviet-manufactured jets, which were taken over from old East German stocks in the 1990s, Duda said.
Duda added that the rest of their MiG-29 jets would also be supplied after the necessary checks had been carried out.
After having led a long and eventually successful campaign to persuade western allies to donate tanks to Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has since turned his attention to fighter jets. In particular, Ukraine is requesting American F-16 jets, although no country has yet agreed to pledge them.
In response to Duda's announcement, the White House in Washington, D.C. said that Warsaw's decision has not changed their decision against sending F-16s to Ukraine.
In response, member of the Russian parliament and head of the parliament's international committee Leonid Slutsky wrote on his Telegram channel, "with his decision, Duda further reduced the service life of MiGs. They have not years left to fly, but a few months - they have already become legitimate targets for the Russian Aerospace Forces."