BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) – Slovakia may consider donating its fleet of Soviet-era MiG fighter jets to Ukraine, Slovakia’s defense minister said Monday.
Alongside his British counterpart Ben Wallace, Slovakian Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said “we can discuss the future” of his country’s 11 MiG-29 fighter jets after they are “most likely” grounded in late August.
Slovakia has already negotiated with NATO allies the Czech Republic and Poland to oversee Slovak airspace from early September.
“No decision has been made yet, there are no discussions at the moment and we are ready to discuss that later,” said Nad.
Wallace said Britain would not now consider giving Ukrainian fighter jets, but Slovakia would offer fighter jets to help guard its airspace.
Since the invasion began on February 24, Ukraine has urged Western allies to provide it with combat aircraft to challenge Russian air superiority.
However, the US and its allies are reluctant to give Ukraine the fighter jets it asks for, fearing it would provoke an escalating response from Moscow, which NATO has warned that supplying Ukraine with warplanes could be tantamount to participating in the conflict.
Nad said delivering warplanes to Ukraine would require broader discussion with allies about the implications of such delivery.
“But politically, yes, I can tell you there is a positive attitude to help Ukrainians with Mi-29s.”
Slovakia has signed a deal to buy 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets to replace the MiG-29s, but the start of their delivery has been delayed by two years to 2024.
Slovakia has supplied Ukraine with heavy weapons since the beginning of the war. The donations include a Soviet-era S-300 air defense system, military helicopters, and thousands of Grad multi-missile rocket launchers. Slovakia also sold Ukraine self-propelled howitzers.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine