"We are giving these MiGs to Ukraine so that they can protect civilians from the many bombs falling on their homes and which are the reason people are dying in Ukraine," Heger said in Bratislava. His country will also deliver the Kub air defense system to Ukraine. This was "fully coordinated" with Poland and Ukraine.
Of the 13 fighter jets, three were to be cannibalized for spare parts, explained the chief of staff of the Slovakian army, Daniel Zmeko. According to Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad, the transport will "take a few weeks".
Slovakia has one more MiG-29 that will be displayed in a military museum. The country plans to replace the Soviet-designed jets with US F-16 fighter jets by January 2024 at the latest. Bratislava decided last year to stop using MiGs because of its dependence on Russian technicians and companies. Since then, Slovakian airspace has been protected by the Czech Republic and Poland.
Kiev thanked Slovakia: "Ukrainian angels are ready to protect good and punish evil. But they need wings," Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Twitter. The MiG-29 jets and the Kub anti-aircraft system "will help us effectively defend our skies". An "aviation coalition" is currently being formed, he said, referring to Poland and Slovakia.
According to the 2023 World Air Force Report released by Flight Global in late 2022, Ukraine has 43 MiG-29s in service.
The Kremlin criticized the "increasing involvement" of NATO countries in the Ukraine war. "As we have repeated many times, the delivery of this military equipment will not affect the outcome of the military special operation," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "Of course, this equipment will be destroyed."
On Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that he would initially deliver four Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine "in the coming days". These would come from old GDR stocks.
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said on Friday in Berlin that it was "not certain" whether the aircraft in question came from GDR stocks. In this case, the federal government would have to issue an approval due to the so-called end-use clause. There are also other sources that have supplied the Polish Air Force with MiG-29 aircraft, Hebestreit said. The German government has not yet received any application from Poland in connection with the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine announced by Warsaw.
Estonia, one of Ukraine's closest allies, welcomed the announced fighter jet deliveries: "Slovakia and Poland are showing great leadership in sending the fighter jets they want to Ukraine," the Estonian Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
Kiev has repeatedly asked its western allies for modern fighter jets, hoping for US-made F-16s.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Polish decision does not change the US refusal of such a shipment. "That doesn't change our analysis. That's not up for debate," Kirby said on Thursday, noting that US President Joe Biden had publicly rejected a delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has so far refused to deliver F-16s to Ukraine. The CDU foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter told the TV channel Welt that he considers it legitimate for Ukrainian fighter jets to also attack military targets on Russian soil. "We should rule out that villages or towns are fought on Russian soil, but definitely not the provision of ammunition or troop supplies."
The spokesman for the Ukrainian army, Yuriy Ignat, said after the announcement from Warsaw: "The MiG will not solve our problems, we need F-16s. But the MiG will strengthen our capacities."