Russia on Friday termed plans by NATO members Poland and Slovakia to send their Soviet warplanes to Ukraine attempts to dispose of antiquated equipment.
“This is another example of how a number of NATO member states, including Poland, are raising their direct involvement in the conflict,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during his Friday press briefing, in a response to the recent announcements that Warsaw and Bratislava would send Soviet-designed MiG-29 warplanes to Kiev.
It would not affect the outcome of Russia’s military operation but instead “may lead to additional suffering for Ukraine itself and its people”, he added.
“It seems like these countries (Poland and Slovakia) are just disposing of old equipment they no longer need,” Peskov said. The MiG-29 was designed in the 1970s and entered service in the 1980s.
Warsaw’s plan to transfer four of the MiG-29 fighters to Kiev “in the next few days” was announced by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki earlier this week. This makes Poland the first NATO country to pledge warplanes to Ukraine. The country has 28 MiG-29s, but it is unclear how many of them are in working condition, as the country has sought to update its air force with US- and South Korean-made fighters.
Slovakia, also a NATO member, similarly announced on Friday that it would send 13 of its MiGs to Kiev. However, the jets were retired last year, and several reports suggested that they were mostly not in operational condition.
Ukraine has been requesting warplanes, specifically American-made F-16s for its military, but US President Joe Biden said in January that they were not planning to send any over. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz similarly stated the same month that Berlin was not even discussing transferring its own F-16s.
French President Emmanuel Macron has sounded more vague, saying in January that he would not rule out sending fighter jets to Ukraine. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced in February that London would be training Ukrainian pilots, adding that there was still no decision on actually sending Western-made fighter jets to Kiev.