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Poland to Provide Jet Fighters to Ukraine Amidst NATO Concerns

Poland is set to become the first NATO country to provide fighter jets to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began last year. President Andrzej Duda announced at a news conference on Thursday that the country will give Ukraine roughly a dozen MiG-29 Soviet-designed warplanes, with four of them arriving in the coming days. Western governments have so far declined to give fighter jets out of concern over escalating tensions between NATO and Russia.[0]

Ukraine has been asking for fighter jets since the early days of the war, but NATO nations have been hesitant to provide them due to the risk of being drawn into a direct confrontation with Moscow. The US has provided Ukraine with powerful weapons such as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and Javelin missiles and has agreed to send Kyiv M1 Abrams tanks, but has resisted authorizing the shipment of F-16s.[1]

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) is currently looking into the feasibility of furnishing European operators of MiG-29s with Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 1 fighter jets, with the intention of then donating the Soviet-era aircraft to Ukraine.

John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council spokesman, has said the White House supports Poland’s decision to provide Ukraine with MiG fighter jets, and said that Washington would encourage other countries to help Ukraine however they can.[2] Slovakia has said it will send its disused MiGs to Ukraine to replace losses to Kyiv's current stocks, and the UK is exploring the possibility of supplying Eurofighter jets.

Poland has been providing Ukraine with crucial support during the war and is hosting thousands of American troops.[3] It was also the first NATO nation to hand German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine last month.[3]

Though the MiG-29s are older than the western-grade fighter jets Ukraine has been asking for, they will add to the country's arsenal with operational jets or spare parts for its own damaged stock.[4] The U.S. has said it would take too long to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s, and maintenance and logistics would be too complicated to manage during an ongoing conflict.[5]

Last year, a discussion regarding whether to furnish Ukraine (a non-NATO nation) with fighter jets began, yet NATO partners voiced apprehension about intensifying the alliance's involvement in the conflict.

0. “Poland to send Ukraine fighter jets; U.S. released footage of apparent drone collision” WBT, 16 Mar. 2023, https://wbt.com/540101/poland-to-send-ukraine-fighter-jets-u-s-released-footage-of-apparent-drone-collision/

1. “Ukraine's Newest Fighter Jet Compared to U.S. F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon'” Newsweek, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/ukraine-fighter-jet-compared-f-16-fighting-falcon-1788049

2. “U.S. endorses Poland's decision of providing Ukraine MiG jets” TVP World, 14 Mar. 2023, https://tvpworld.com/68496694/us-endorses-polands-decision-of-providing-ukraine-mig-jets

3. “Poland poised to become first NATO nation to supply Ukraine with fighter jets” Express, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1747297/ukraine-jets-russia-zelensky-poland

4. “Poland to Send Four Soviet-Era Jets to Kyiv in Coming Days” msnNOW, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/poland-to-send-four-soviet-era-jets-to-kyiv-in-coming-days/ar-AA18I22m

5. “Poland will send fighter jets to Ukraine, the first NATO country to do so” MPR News, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.mprnews.org/story/2023/03/16/poland-will-send-fighter-jets-to-ukraine-the-first-nato-country-to-do-so

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