BRATISLAVA – Slovakia may consider donating its fleet of Soviet-era MiG warplanes to Ukraine, the Slovak defense minister said Monday.
Standing alongside his British counterpart Ben Wallace, Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said “we can discuss the future" of his country’s 11 MiG-29 fighter jets after they're grounded “most probably” by the end of August.
Slovakia has already negotiated with NATO allies the Czech Republic and Poland to monitor Slovak air space from the beginning of September.
“No decision has been made yet, no discussions are taking place as of now and we’re ready to discuss that later on,” said Nad.
Wallace said Britain isn't now considering giving Ukraine warplanes, but would offer Slovakia fighter jets to help guard its airspace.
Since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24, Ukraine has urged Western allies to provide it with warplanes to challenge Russia’s air superiority.
However, the U.S. and its allies have been reluctant to give Ukraine the fighter jets it asks for, fearing it would provoke an escalatory response from Moscow, which has warned NATO that supplying Ukraine with combat aircraft could be tantamount to joining the conflict.
Nad said providing warplanes to Ukraine would require a broader discussion with allies about the consequences of such a delivery.
“But politically, yes, I can tell you there's a positive attitude of helping Ukrainians with Mi-29s."
Slovakia has signed a deal to buy 14 U.S. F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets to replace its MiG-29s but the start of their delivery was postponed by two years to 2024.
Slovakia has supplied Ukraine with heavy weapons since the war started. Its donations include a Soviet-era S-300 air defense system, military helicopters and thousands of Grad multiple-rocket launcher rockets. Slovakia also sold Ukraine self-propelled howitzers.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine