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Sun, Mar 19, 2023

Poland to Provide Ukraine MiG-29s

The Perils of Escalation

Polish president Andrzej Duda announced his country will provision Ukraine with approximately one-dozen Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets—thereby securing Poland the dubious distinctions of being the first NATO member to acknowledge the Ukrainian government's requests for warplanes.

Duda set forth that Poland would hand over four of the formidable combat aircraft "within the next few days,” adding that the remaining jets needed servicing and would be supplied in short order.

Speaking to the subject of the MiG-29s, Duda stated: "They are in the last years of their functioning but they are in good working condition.”

Duda made the announcement during a Warsaw news conference at which he was joined by Czech president, Petr Pavel. Over the event’s course Duda asserted Poland’s air force would replace the MiG-29s bound for Ukraine with South Korean-made FA-50s—a supersonic jet trainer and light attack aircraft—and American-made F-35s Lightning IIs.

In February 2023, Poland provided Ukraine 14 German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller stated on Wednesday, 15 March that other European nations had pledged to send MiGs to Kyiv, but given no indication when. Slovakia intimated that it will send Ukraine a number of its disused MiGs, but refrained, also, from specifying when.

Like Poland, Slovakia borders Ukraine to the west.

Prior to the February 2022 commencement of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Kyiv retained several dozen MiG-29 air-superiority fighters which the former communist state acquired during the collapse of the Soviet Union. How many of those aircraft remain in service after more than a year of continuous fighting is unclear.

The debate over whether to provide Ukraine, a non-NATO country, with combat aircraft has dragged on in the West for over one-year. Most NATO member-states have perspicaciously eschewed the notion of further arming Ukraine, wary of seeing today’s territorial dispute escalate into tomorrow’s world war.

Poland’s immediate proximity to Ukraine occasions unique socio-political paradoxes. The overwhelmingly Catholic, highly homogenous nation is currently hosting both thousands of U.S. troops and north of three-million Ukrainian refugees. What’s more, Poland’s millennia-long history of repeated Russian invasions and occupations engenders a powerful cultural aversion to all things Russian, and compels the country’s people and leaders to incline more readily toward conflict than diplomacy. That Warsaw can be relied upon to support a resolution to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict not predicated upon Moscow’s complete withdrawal from Poland’s eastern neighbor is uncertain.

FMI: www.state.gov

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