Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine contrary to agreement by NATO countries


Mar 17, 2023

​Poland has become the first NATO country to agree to send fighter jets to Ukraine after members of the bloc previously agreed that it was not yet time to send the jets to Kyiv. President Andrzej Duda, Thursday, said Poland would hand over four of the planes to Ukraine in the coming days and provide about a dozen of them in the coming weeks and months.

“We can say confidently that we are sending MIGs to Ukraine,” President Duda said. “We have a dozen or so MIGS that we got in the 90s handed down from the German Democratic Republic and they are functional and play a part in the defence of our airspace. They are at the end of their operational life but are still functional.”

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

Since the war began in Ukraine, NATO countries have acted unanimously in sanctioning Russian companies and Oligarchs. They have also acted as one in sending arms to Ukraine. In January, they all agreed to send modern tanks to Ukraine after several talks between themselves. This time, NATO countries have not concluded whether to send fighter jets to Ukraine before Poland decided to do so. Hence, it acted alone, and no other NATO country was part of the move.

Poland acted alone, US and Germany say

The United States and Germany have distanced themselves from Poland’s decision to send fighter jets to Ukraine. Although they are allies and have agreed not to send such aircraft at this time, comments from the officials of the two countries suggest that Poland might have deviated from an initial agreement not to do so, at least for now.

“So far, everyone has agreed that it is not the time to send fighter jets,” Boris Pistorius, Germany’s Defense Minister, said Thursday. “I don’t have any confirmation from Poland yet that this has happened.”

Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said Poland made the decision to send the fighter jets as a sovereign country and not as a NATO member.

“With regard to the decision by Poland to provide jets to Ukraine, look, these are sovereign decisions for countries to make what they will provide to Ukraine to help defend itself against the Russian aggression,” Blinken, who is currently in the Niger Republic, said at a press conference. “We, of course, are working closely with dozens of countries on these questions, but different countries are doing different things in response to what they have and what the perceived needs are.”

He added that the United States was ready to provide what Ukraine truly needs and what it can use at this moment, suggesting that it was not time to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

On his part, John Kirby, spokesperson of the National Security Council, said Poland contacted the United States before deciding to send the jets but insisted that it was its sovereign decision. He added that Poland’s decision would not in any way affect its stand that it was not time to send such equipment to Ukraine.

“There’s no change in our view with respect to fighter aircraft at this time. That is our sovereign decision,” Kirby said. That is where we are, other nations can speak to their own decisions.” Ukraine’s unending call for fighter jets

Since the war started in Ukraine, President Zelensky has called on allies to donate one thing after another. Soon after Germany and the United States agreed to send their abrams and leopard tanks to Ukraine, Mr Zelensky’s demand for fighter jets had been constant. However, the demand was turned down by the most powerful nations of the bloc, saying it was not time for such, as the war could end up becoming one between Russia and NATO.

Poland’s unwavering support for Ukraine

Although Poland could not do as much as the United States, the UK and Germany, it has done so much for Ukraine based on the little it has. It is always the first to take sides with Ukraine and call for further assistance to Kyiv. Poland had insisted on sending fighter jets to Ukraine despite the refusal of other nations to do so. Since the beginning of the war over one year ago, President Duda has continued to do whatever he can to support his neighbour and had never been reluctant to do so.

Apart from providing military equipment, Poland has also provided shelter for more than 10 million Ukrainians affected by the war.

What the fighter jets mean for Ukraine

Poland’s decision to send fighter jets to Ukraine might not be enough to boost the military’s air capabilities to the required level, but that does not undermine the importance of the military equipment.

Ian Williams, deputy director of CSIS’s Missile Defense Project, told TIME news agency that the MiG-29 could help protect the skies from Russian aircraft and shoot down Russian cruise missiles.

“It’s very fast and very manoeuvrable. They could be key to protecting Ukrainian infrastructure and the frontlines. Having more aircraft allows (Ukraine) to fill in gaps to engage missiles earlier,” Williams said.

Ukrainian pilots are already familiar with the MiG-29 fighter jets, and there would be no additional training before they would use them. Before the invasion in February last year, Ukraine had about several dozen of the same jet, but it is unclear how many are left after about one year of the war.

Additionally, Poland’s decision to send the fighter jets could put additional pressure on Western allies to rethink their decision not to do so. Piotr Mueller, the spokesperson to the Polish government, said some other countries have agreed to send fighter jets to Ukraine but failed to mention their names.


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