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Germany approves Polish request to send Ukraine 5 MiG jets

Published April 13, 2023last updated April 13, 2023

Germany has given its permission for formerly East German MiG fighter jets to be sent on to Ukraine. The swift approval comes just hours after Berlin said that it had received the application.

Slovak Air Force MiG-29s fly over an airport during an airshow in Malacky, Slovakia
Poland is planning to send more MiG-29 fighter jets to UkraineImage: Petr David Josek/AP/picture alliance

Poland's formal request to Germany for permission to send five Cold War-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine has been given the green light, the German Defense Ministry confirmed on Thursday.

According to German rules, the weapons that it sells require approval from Berlin if the receiving country wants to send them on to a third country.

"I welcome the fact that we in the federal government have reached this decision together," Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said after the decision was made in Berlin. "This shows Germany can be relied on!"

Poland had already sent eight of the jets to Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda recently said after first announcing the plan in March, but the ones they want to now deliver come from old East German stocks.

Ukraine has been calling for the delivery of fighter jets to better defend against Russia's full-scale invasion.

What are the MiG-29s that Poland wants to send?

The Soviet-made planes formerly belonged to East Germany and 23 were transferred to Poland in 2002.

Duda's security adviser Jacek Siewiera said that a dozen of the jets were still in Poland.

German Defence Minister Pistorius said that while it makes sense to send these MiGs to Ukraine, Berlin's decision does not indicate a change in policy on supplying Western-made jets. 

"This is about MiGs, because they can be deployed by the Ukrainian forces immediately, because they are known, because they can be flown immediately, because both maintenance and repair and servicing are easily possible and without a transition period," he said.

He added that this did not apply to Western planes, and certainly not those in
Germany's possession.

Kyiv's calls for fighter jets


Jets had been high on Kyiv's list of desired equipment since early in the war, but efforts had been focused on acquiring advanced Western tanks.

But calls for Western fighter jets have increased since Germany and the US agreed to send Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks to Ukraine respectively.

Although the MiG-29s may provide some relief to Ukraine, they are unlikely to satiate its demands.

Ukraine's deputy foreign minister, Andriy Melnyk, has previously called for "a powerful fighter jet coalition for Ukraine," comprising US-made F-16s and F-35s, Eurofighter, Tornado, Rafale and Gripen warplanes.

ab/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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