Poland MiG-29: Warsaw becomes first NATO member to pledge fighter jets to Ukraine


Poland on Thursday pledged it could ship 4 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the primary NATO member to take action, in a major transfer in Kyiv’s battle to withstand Russia’s onslaught.

President Andrzej Duda stated the planes – from a few dozen that it had inherited from the previous German Democratic Republic – can be handed over within the coming days after being serviced.

“In the case of the MiG-29 plane, that are nonetheless working within the protection of Polish airspace, a choice has been taken on the highest ranges, we will say confidently that we’re sending MiGs to Ukraine,” Duda stated.

Warsaw has taken a lead amongst NATO allies in supplying Kyiv with heavy weapons. The announcement that Poland will ship the Soviet-designed planes marks a break from the alliance, and will put stress on different member states to do the identical. Different NATO nations have been reluctant to maneuver far past a choice earlier this yr to ship tanks to Kyiv, and the US insisted Thursday that Poland’s transfer wouldn’t drive Washington’s hand.

Talking at a information convention in Warsaw together with his new Czech counterpart Petr Pavel, the Polish president expressed the 2 nations’ joint backing for Kyiv.

“The Czech Republic and Poland are nations which might be within the absolute vanguard with regards to supporting Ukraine, each at humanitarian and navy ranges,” President Duda stated.

Poland had been some of the vocal European nations in opposition to Russia – even earlier than the invasion of Ukraine. Russia continues to be seen by many in Poland’s political and diplomatic circles in a Chilly Battle context. Putin has at all times been seen by Warsaw as untrustworthy and Russia enlargement is one thing to be fought in opposition to in any respect prices. It is without doubt one of the few NATO nations that by legislation is required to satisfy its 2% of GDP protection spending dedication and is an lively member of the European protection neighborhood.

Whereas sending MiGs is a break from the alliance, it isn’t an surprising transfer and complies completely with Poland’s membership of NATO. It would change the dynamic inside the alliance, appearing as a catalyst for extra nations to take action, or upset nations which might be against NATO getting extra concerned within the battle like Hungary.

The largest query can be if it places stress on the UK and the US, which is able to then do the identical for Germany. In the end, creating this stress on different allies was in all probability Poland’s intention.

The White Home stated Thursday that Poland’s determination to ship the fighter jets is a “sovereign determination” that gained’t spur President Joe Biden to ship F-16 plane.

“It doesn’t change our calculus with respect to F-16s,” stated John Kirby, a high official on the US Nationwide Safety Council.

“These are sovereign choices for any nation to make and we respect these sovereign choices,” he stated, including later: “They get to find out not solely what they’re going to provide however how they’re going to characterize it.”

“I wouldn’t suppose it’s our place to characterize Poland’s determination a technique or one other,” Kirby stated, declining to endorse the choice.

Biden, who stated earlier this yr he wouldn’t ship US fighter jets to Ukraine, gained’t be swayed by Poland’s determination, he stated.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz introduced his nation would supply 14 Leopard 2 tanks in January, bowing to intensifying worldwide stress, led by the US, Poland and a bloc of different European nations, which referred to as on Berlin to step up its navy help and decide to sending their sought-after automobiles.

The announcement was matched by the US, with President Joe Biden saying that he would supply 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing the administration’s longstanding resistance to requests from Kyiv for the extremely subtle however maintenance-heavy automobiles.

Along with tanks, Ukraine has additionally been pushing for the US to supply fighter jets, arguing that it wants the planes to defend in opposition to Russian missile and drone assaults.

However that push has been met with skepticism by US and allied officers, who say the jets can be impractical as a result of they require appreciable coaching and Russia has intensive anti-aircraft methods that would simply shoot them down.

US and European officers have beforehand advised CNN that F-16 fighter jets had been impractical on this scenario. Germany dominated out fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine utterly whereas UK authorities officers echoed the sentiment and stated that they believed it was not sensible to ship jets into Ukraine.

In the meantime Thursday, Polish authorities stated 9 individuals belonging to an alleged espionage ring had been detained, suspected of “collaborating” with the Russian secret service company FSB. 

Inside Minister Mariusz Kamiński stated these detained had been “foreigners from throughout the jap border.” 

“The suspects carried out intelligence actions in opposition to Poland and ready acts of sabotage on the request of Russian intelligence,” the minister stated.   

Kamiński revealed that the prosecutor’s workplace charged six individuals with espionage and participation in an organized prison group.

The courtroom determined to pre-trial detention of the six individuals, he stated, including that prosecution proceedings are pending in opposition to the three detained on Wednesday. 

“Proof reveals that the group monitored railway routes. Its duties included recognizing, monitoring and documenting transports with weapons delivered to Ukraine,” the minister stated.   

“The suspects had been additionally alleged to be making ready for sabotage actions geared toward paralyzing the provision of apparatus, weapons and help to Ukraine,” Kamiński continued.