On Thursday, Poland announced that it would be sending a handful of MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets to Ukraine.
MiG-29 Fulcrums for Ukraine
According to Polish President Andrzej Duda, in the coming days, the Polish will give four MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets to Ukraine.
Poland is the first NATO member-state to commit fighter jets to Ukraine.
“When it comes to the MiG-29 aircraft, which are still operating in defense of Polish airspace, a decision has been taken at the highest levels, we can say confidently that we are sending MiGs to Ukraine,” Duda said on Thursday during a joint press conference with his Czech counterpart.
The MiG-29s were initially flown by Eastern Germany, but Poland bought them at the end of the Cold War.
“The Czech Republic and Poland are countries that are in the absolute vanguard when it comes to supporting Ukraine, both at humanitarian and military levels,” President Duda said.
The Polish decision has the potential to pave the way for more fighter jet transfers by other countries.
Indeed, when it comes to security aid to Ukraine, there is a familiar pattern by now. Countries will initially rule out a weapon system because they see it as an escalation, only to revise their stance later.
Thus far, it has happened several times with a wide range of weapon systems, including FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft weapons, FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles, M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and Leopard 2 main battle tanks.
Poland has been a steadfast ally to Ukraine, providing vast quantities of weapon systems and ammunition to the Ukrainian military as well as physical access to the West. From artillery to ammunition to T-72B and Leopard 2 tanks, Poland has sent key weapon systems and support to Ukraine. And now, Warsaw seems ready to send MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets.
The decision to send Ukraine MiG-29 Fulcrums fighter jets ends a year-long saga. Around the same time last year, the West was debating whether to send Kyiv MiG-29s. However, at the time, the argument against it prevailed.
Poland Hinted at the Decision
Poland adumbrated its decision to send the MiG-29 Fulcrums to Ukraine earlier this week. On Tuesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country could send Ukraine a number of its MiG-29 Fulcrum jets (Warsaw has 28) to support in defense against Russia. Morawiecki indicated that the Polish Air Force could have the jets ready for delivery in as little as four weeks.
However, it should be noted that the air war has been relatively subtle. Indeed, neither air force has managed to secure superiority over the skies of Ukraine.
The surprise mainly stems from the Russian side as the Russian Aerospace Forces are significantly better equipped and larger.
The main reason for the absence of air superiority on either side is the prevalence of all types of air defense systems.
Author Biography and Expertise
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.