Slovakia must decide on sending MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, Defense Minister Jaroslav Naď said on Thursday, referring to the 11-member fleet that was decommissioned last summer, not all of them in serviceable condition.
“I think it’s time to make a decision,” Nad said on Facebook. “People are dying in Ukraine, we can really help them, there is no room for Slovakian politicking.”
Nad said he spoke to Poland’s defense minister at Wednesday’s European Union meeting and was told Warsaw would agree to a joint process to hand over MiG-29s to Ukraine.
Western countries that have provided weapons to Ukraine have so far refused to send fighter jets. Poland said it would be willing to send warplanes in a coalition of countries.
The head of the presidential office, Pawel Szrot, told Radio Puls on Thursday that the number of aircraft will be lower than the 14 German Leopard 2 tanks that Poland has promised to deliver to Ukraine.
“It will certainly not correspond to the number of converted Leopards. We will certainly do it in a wider international coalition,” said Szrot.
Countries on the eastern flank of the NATO military alliance, such as Poland and Slovakia, have strongly supported Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
Warsaw’s commitment to its neighbor was important in persuading European allies to donate heavy weapons, including tanks, to Ukraine, a move that until recently was opposed by several governments, including Germany.
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said last month that the country could begin negotiations on the delivery of the planes after Kiev officially requested them.
Heger’s government is ruling as a caretaker government until snap elections scheduled for September, and Naď has said he is ready to involve parliament in deciding the jet plan.