Slovakia is ready to send its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the Slovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs Rastislav Kacher said.
According to minister, the transfer is being discussed with NATO and Ukraine, and a Ukrainian delegation will soon arrive to Ukraine to start the transfer.
“I think I need to keep it a secret as to how it will be done so as not to jeopardize it, but I will say that today we had a very, very good exchange of views with President Zelensky about how we will do it,” Kacher said in an interview to Ukrainian news agency Interfax Ukraina. “I am very optimistic […] soon, planes will appear in Ukraine.”
He also added that the latest Slovakian military aid package included “several thousand” missiles for the MiG-29 fighter, in addition to other kinds of ammunition.
Provision of fighter jets to Ukraine is a controversial issue, with heavy debates raging ever since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.
While there were numerous proposals to supply Western-made fighter aircraft to Ukraine, Soviet-era jets that the Ukrainian Air Force already operates – such as the MiG-29 and the Su-27 – are considered as the most realistic option since Ukrainian pilots would be already familiar with the aircraft. They would also be compatible with existing logistics.
In the early months of the war, the delivery of combat aircraft was considered dangerous due to a possible escalation of the conflict. While several schemes of transfer were proposed, none of them ever materialized.
In April 2022, Ukraine reportedly received some spare parts from unnamed NATO countries, allowing to keep its ever-shrinking fleet of MiG-29s operational.
In June 2022, Slovakia agreed to transfer its fleet of up to 11 jets to Ukraine on the condition that Poland and Czechia agreed to protect Slovakia’s airspace until 2023, when the deliveries of Slovakia’s Lockheed Martin F-16s are scheduled to start.
The neighboring countries agreed to the offer, and Slovakia MiGs were grounded in preparation for the transfer.