| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Slovakia can start talks on sending MIG-29 jets to Ukraine, says PM

After Ukraine formally requested the MIG-29 fighter fighters, Slovakia can now begin negotiations to supply the aircraft, according to Prime Minister Eduard Heger on Friday.

Until now, the Western nations who have given Ukraine armaments have declined to deploy fighter jets or long-range missiles that can strike deep within Russia.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine, stated on Thursday that he had heard from a number of European Union leaders at a conference that they were prepared to give Kyiv aircraft, hinting at one of the biggest swings in Western support for Ukraine to date.

“The Ukrainian president asked me to deliver the MIGs. Now, because this official request has come, the process of negotiations can be started,” Heger said.

The negotiations will be both internal and also with the European Commission, because Slovakia could have the delivery reimbursed, Heger said.

“Our MIGs can save innocent lives in Ukraine,” he said.

Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said the country no longer needed the jets and it could either sell them somewhere else, or give them to Ukraine where the planes could help. He said no decision had been taken yet.

The 12 Russian-made jets have been grounded since last summer, and they are in varying conditions.

The Slovak government ordered F-16 fighter jets from the United States in 2018 to replace the ageing MiG-29 planes.

The first U.S.-made planes were expected to arrive last year and shipment was meant to be completed this year, but delivery is now expected to take place in 2024.

Slovakia borders Ukraine in the east and has been an entry point for refugees fleeing the fighting during the near year-long war. Bratislava has also backed Kyiv with weapons and other aid, while NATO is boosting its presence in Slovakia.

  • Reuters