Poland announced Tuesday that it will make all its Soviet-era MiG-29 aircraft at the disposal of the United States, as part of an agreement that allows the Ukrainian military to use the planes.
The Polish Foreign Ministry said, in a statement, that Warsaw “is ready to deliver the aircraft to the US airbase in Ramstein in Germany immediately and free of charge” to be at Washington’s disposal, the Associated Press reported.
The decision is expected to be a morale boost for Ukraine, which is demanding more military and logistical assistance from Western countries, especially members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
For its part, the US administration explained that Poland’s announcement regarding the MiG-29 aircraft came “without prior coordination.”
“To my knowledge, we were not previously consulted that they planned to give us these planes,” Victoria Nuland, the US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told a Senate hearing.
Washington was studying a proposal under which Poland would provide Ukraine with Soviet-era fighters, and in turn would receive American (F-16) planes to compensate for its loss.
It is noteworthy that the Polish government has appealed to other owners of MiG-29 aircraft to follow suit.
Bulgaria and Slovakia, former members of the Soviet bloc in NATO, still have Soviet-made combat aircraft in their air forces.
Russia has warned that supporting the Ukrainian air force will be seen in Moscow as “participation in the conflict” and open the door for suppliers to potential retaliation.
Earlier on Tuesday, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said his country would “stand by Poland if the planes were handed over,” noting that it could face the “direct consequence” of its decision.
In turn, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki insisted, in a press conference, today, after his government’s decision regarding the MiG-29 aircraft “does not mean that Poland or NATO are parties to this war.”
It is noteworthy that Poland has 28 MiG-29 aircraft, according to the Associated Press.