Ukraine, which hopes to launch a counterattack in the coming months, wants fighter jets to defend against airstrikes.
The German government has approved Poland’s request to transfer five Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets to help Ukraine defend against a Russian invasion.
“I welcome the fact that we in the federal government came to this decision together,” Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement Thursday.
Poland needs Germany’s approval to send its remaining aircraft to a third country.
The order from Poland arrived on Thursday, Pistorius said, adding that approval the same day showed that “you can count on Germany.”
Germany inherited 24 MiG-29s from the German Democratic Republic, also known as East Germany, during reunification in 1990. At the time, the aircraft was considered among the most advanced combat aircraft in the world.
In 2004, the German government delivered 22 aircraft to neighboring Poland. Of the two remaining planes, one was destroyed in a crash and another is on display in a museum.
When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Warsaw a week ago, his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, said his country had already provided four MiG-29s to Ukraine, with four more in delivery and six more in preparation. Slovakia has also delivered MiG-29s to Ukraine.
Ukraine, which hopes to launch a counterattack in the coming weeks or months, wants to secure fighter jets to defend against Russian airstrikes.
Western countries have so far been reluctant to provide Ukraine with advanced fighter jets, such as the US-made F-16s, but some countries have stepped in to send the aging MiG-29s already in use by Ukraine.
Fighter aircraft had been at the top of Kiev’s list of required equipment since the start of the war, but efforts were focused on acquiring advanced Western tanks.
Calls for Western aircraft have increased since Germany and the United States agreed to send Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks to Ukraine, respectively.
Poland, which has sent 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, has been an early advocate of sending fighter jets to the war-torn country.
Although the MiG-29s may provide some relief to Ukraine, they are unlikely to meet its demands.
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk has previously called for a “strong fighter aircraft alliance for Ukraine”, consisting of US-made F-16s and F-35s, Eurofighter, Tornado, Rafale and Gripen jets.
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