Slovakia's government has approved a plan to give Ukraine its fleet of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, becoming the second NATO member country to agree to fulfill the Ukrainian government's pleas for warplanes to help defend against Russia's invasion.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced the unanimous decision of his government on Friday. Slovakia grounded its fleet last year and no longer uses the jets.
“Promises must be kept and when @ZelenskyyUa asked for more #weapons incl. fighter jets, I said we'll do our best,” Heger tweeted, adding that “military aid was key to ensuring Ukraine can defend itself and the entire #Europe against #Russia.”
On Thursday, Poland's president said his country would give Ukraine around a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets.
President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday that Poland would hand over four of the Soviet-made warplanes in the coming days and others that need servicing and would be supplied later.
Both Poland and Slovakia had indicated they were ready to hand over their planes, but only as part of a wider international coalition doing the same. It remains unclear whether other countries would also share their military planes.
The debate over whether to provide non-NATO member Ukraine with military fighter jets started last year, but NATO allies held off, citing concern about escalating the alliance's role in the war.
However, Russia said they would destroy fighter jets supplied to Ukraine. All fighter jets supplied to Ukraine by Western nations would be destroyed, Russia said.
Kyiv has been demanding the West to supply it with crucial military weapons like tanks and fighter jets as it says they are vital to fend off Russian advances. Russia alleged that the West was directly participating in the war by supplying weapons to Ukraine and it had warned NATO weapons were legitimate targets for its forces.
"In the course of the special military operation all this equipment will be subject to destruction," Reuters reported quoting Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "It feels like all of these countries are thus engaged in the disposal of old unnecessary equipment," Peskov said.
In 2018, Slovakia ordered F-16 fighter jets from the United States to replace its ageing MiG-29 planes. Its fleet of 11 MiG-29s was retired last summer, Reuters reported.