Poland will become the first NATO member to supply Ukraine with fighter jets as Polish President Andrzej Duda said Thursday that his country plans to give Kyiv four Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets in the coming days.
“In the coming days, we are handing over four aircraft to Ukraine in full working order,” Duda said at a press conference. Ukrainian pilots are trained to use the MiG-29, so the Polish planes can be used in battle once they arrive. Duda said Poland will send more MiG-29s after the first four are delivered.
Last year, in March 2022, Poland offered to give MiG-29s to the US to transfer them to Ukraine, but the Pentagon declined, citing concerns of escalation. NATO diplomats said at the time that Russia could perceive the move as the alliance directly entering the war.
But now, the US and its NATO allies are less concerned about escalation, and Poland’s move could inspire other alliance members to provide Ukraine with aircraft. Poland led the charge to give Kyiv German-made Leopard tanks.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Ukraine’s MiG-29s are already armed with NATO equipment, including AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles, or HARMs, which have a range of about 50 miles. Ukraine’s MiGs are also firing US-provided Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER), precision-guided bombs that can hit targets up to 45 miles away.
Duda said he was open to providing Kyiv with American-made F-16s, which would require extensive training for Ukrainian pilots. The US is already laying the groundwork for the training as at least two Ukrainian pilots have arrived in the US to assess their skills.