Poland has committed to sending four Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine to be used in the ongoing conflict against Russia. The announcement came from Polish President Andrzej Duda, who also stated that additional planes that are currently under maintenance will be handed over gradually. Poland is currently the only country to agree to provide Ukraine with combat planes. This follows Kyiv’s attempts in recent weeks to lobby its allies to send modern fighter jets, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy making repeated requests to the U.K. and France for this. Even with the supply of dozens of tanks by allies, Ukraine’s military is mostly made up of ageing Soviet-era planes, which is why they are keen to possess modern jets.
Kyiv’s allies have been wary of handing over the latest generation of combat planes such as American F-16s, fearing they would escalate the conflict, but Ukraine would prefer more advanced fighter jets than the ageing ones that make up their current air force. The U.K. has started training Ukrainian pilots, and the US has welcomed two pilots to assess their flying skills, although it has not yet agreed to let them operate F-16s. France and the Netherlands have stated their willingness to help but have, so far, avoided making firm commitments.
Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, Poland has been one of Ukraine’s most steadfast supporters. Poland had been signalling its intention to send jets in recent days after convincing its Western allies to provide Ukraine with dozens of tanks following a lengthy diplomatic effort. Poland intends to replace the four MiGs with American F-35s and South Korean FA-50 fighters.
There is no doubt that both sides will continue to use various tactics to try to win the war, including weapons development or procurement. Still, with the backing of allies and international conventions, both countries will remain committed to finding ways to strategically overcome each other. The MiG-29 fighter jets that Poland supplies to Ukraine will perhaps provide the latter with the necessary tools to hamper Russia’s operations and hold them under check in the war for Donbas. However, this may also cause Russia to escalate the conflict, leading to further tensions between Ukraine and its allies, and Russia.