Poland announced on Thursday that it will provide four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, making it the first NATO member to take this significant step in supporting Kyiv against Russia’s aggression. President Andrzej Duda stated that the planes, originally from the former German Democratic Republic, would be delivered after maintenance in the coming days.
Poland has been at the forefront among NATO countries in supplying heavy weapons to Kyiv. The decision to send the Soviet-designed aircraft could pressure other NATO members to follow suit, although many have been hesitant to go beyond earlier commitments to send tanks to Ukraine. The US has maintained that Poland’s move will not influence its stance.
At a press conference in Warsaw with Czech President Petr Pavel, President Duda emphasized their joint support for Ukraine, with both countries providing humanitarian and military assistance. Poland has long been critical of Russia and is one of the few NATO members required by law to meet its 2% GDP defense spending commitment.
Poland’s decision to send MiGs might alter the dynamic within NATO, potentially encouraging other members to follow suit or creating tension with nations opposed to further involvement in the conflict. The move may pressure the UK, the US, and Germany, which could have been Poland’s intention.
The White House has referred to Poland’s decision as a “sovereign decision” that will not prompt President Joe Biden to send F-16 aircraft. US National Security Council official John Kirby reaffirmed this stance.
In January, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany would supply 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, followed by President Biden’s commitment to provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks. While Ukraine has sought fighter jets to defend against Russian attacks, US and allied officials have expressed doubts about their practicality in the face of Russia’s extensive anti-aircraft systems.
In other news, Polish authorities have detained nine individuals suspected of collaborating with Russia’s FSB secret service agency. The group is accused of conducting intelligence activities against Poland and preparing sabotage acts. Six individuals have been charged with espionage and participation in an organized criminal group, while prosecution proceedings are pending for the remaining three detainees.