The Slovak government approved the transfer of MiG-29 fighters and part of the Kub missile system to Ukraine. Slovakia decommissioned its MiGs last year. In the photo from September 16, 2017, a MiG-29 fighter plane of the Slovak Air Force is seen at the NATO Days in Mošnov.
Bratislava – The Slovak government has approved the transfer of 13 MiG-29 fighters and part of the Kub missile system to Ukraine, Prime Minister Eduard Heger and Defense Minister Jaroslav Naď told journalists. The donation of machines, spare parts and 200 anti-aircraft missiles to Kyiv will take place on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement, and Bratislava will receive compensation from the allies for this. Slovakia decommissioned its MiGs last year. On Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that his country will hand over four MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine in the coming days. Ukraine has been facing a military invasion by Russia since last February.
According to the agreement, Slovakia will hand over to Ukraine ten MiGs with engines and another three fighters without engines; these three machines were out of service for a long time. The Chief of the General Staff of the Slovak Army, Daniel Zmeko, said that Ukraine will use the fighter jets to ensure the country's air defense and destroy missiles with a flat flight path. Russia has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian targets with missiles in the current conflict.
“We are providing these migas to Ukraine to protect civilians from the number of bombs that fall on their houses and because of which people in Ukraine die,” Heger said.
According to an Ipsos survey for Denník N this month only 26 percent of the population of Slovakia supports handing over MiGs to Ukraine, while up to three-fifths of respondents spoke against it.
Slovakia prematurely stopped using MiG-29 fighter jets of Soviet design last year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and agreed with the Czech Republic and Poland to help secure its airspace until Bratislava receives the ordered American F-16 fighter jets. Meanwhile, Slovakia has also stopped training pilots for MiGs and, according to Nada, the country does not even have spare parts for these machines. The minister added that there is a factory for the repair of Mig-29 machines in Ukraine.
According to Heger and Nada, Slovakia should receive compensation from the allies for the aforementioned deliveries. Earlier this week, Naď said that Bratislava should receive about 200 million euros (4.8 billion CZK) from the EU's European Peace Facility and unspecified equipment from the United States.
On the contrary, some NATO member countries have adopted a cautious attitude towards possible deliveries of fighter jets to Ukraine. The United States, which has already provided Kiev with various military equipment, has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of handing over its fighter jets to Ukraine.
In the past period, some Slovak politicians argued about whether Heger's cabinet has the authority to decide on the handover of fighter jets. After the December vote of no confidence in the government by the House of Representatives, the cabinet remained in office with only limited competences and, for example, cannot decide on fundamental issues of foreign policy. According to Heger, however, the government decided to hand over the equipment to Ukraine through the conclusion of an international agreement, for which it still has constitutional authority.
Slovakia has previously provided Ukraine with various military equipment and ammunition. On the other hand, the opposition Social Democrats (Smér-SD) of ex-prime minister Robert Fico, who according to several polls have already reached the top of the popularity list of political parties, oppose arms deliveries to Ukraine. Early parliamentary elections in Slovakia will be held at the end of September.