Poland, Slovakia become first NATO allies to give Ukraine fighter jets

The U.S. has turned down the request to send F-16 fighter jets multiple times.
Posted at 8:50 AM, Mar 17, 2023

Another NATO member country is now joining Poland in the pledge to send fighter jets to Ukraine, after months of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pushing Western nations to send more backup in the fight against Russia.

Slovakia's government has just approved a plan to supply Ukraine with a fleet of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, according to the Associated Press.

"Military aid is to ensure Ukraine can defend itself and the entire Europe against Russia," Slovakia Prime Minister Eduard Hegertweeted.

The news comes on the heels of the Polish President Andrzej Duda announcing on Thursday that the country will send four MiG-29 jets, which are Soviet-era-designed planes, to support Ukrainian forces. 

“They are in the last years of their functioning, but they are in good working condition,” Duda said.

Poland was the first NATO country to supply Ukraine with fighter jets.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and wife Olena.

Zelenskyy visits Poland to thank ally and meet Ukrainians

The Ukrainian president's rare foray out of the country stands out because it was announced in advance without the secrecy of past trips.


Zelenskyyhad repeatedly asked NATO members for fighter jets and appealed directly to the Slovakian Prime Minister for aircraft at a summit in Brussels last month.

As for the U.S., it has turned down the request to send F-16 fighter jets multiple times, arguing that training Ukrainian troops to use the jets would take too long. However, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters the U.S. respects Poland’s decision.

“There’s no change in our view with respect to fighter aircraft at this time,” Kirby said. “That is our sovereign decision. That is where we are; other nations can speak to their own” decisions.

The MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland and Slovakia could arrive in Ukraine by the end of the month.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.