Germany approves Poland’s request to send jets to Ukraine

BERLIN (AP) — Germany has approved Warsaw’s request for Poland to transfer five Soviet-designed fighter jets to Ukraine, the German Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The permission was needed because Germany used to own the Soviet-designed MiG-29 planes, which were part of communist East Germany’s military fleet.

“I welcome the fact that we in the federal government have reached this decision together,” Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement. “This shows you can rely on Germany!”

Poland was an early advocate of sending fighter jets to Ukraine. When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Warsaw a week ago, Polish President Andrzej Duda said his country already had provided four MiG-29 jets to Ukraine, with four more in the process of getting handed over and another six being prepared.

Slovakia, too, has pledged MiG-29s to Ukraine. The country delivered four of the jets in late March, and has promised a total of 13.

Ukraine’s air force is familiar with MiG-29s and is able to use the planes right away.

Zelenskyy has lobbied Western supporters for months to provide fighter jets, anti-aircraft defense systems and other equipment and ammunition, while Ukrainian officials have spoken of preparations for an expected spring counteroffensive against Russian forces.

“Our actions will be powerful. We are preparing the guys,” Zelenskyy said Thursday in his nightly address. “And we are very much looking forward to the delivery of weapons promised by our partners. We are bringing the victory as close as possible.”

During a visit to Mali earlier Thursday, Pistorius confirmed German media reports saying that Germany had received Poland’s request and would reply by the end of the day.

Germany itself has not supplied Ukraine with jets, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has not signaled any plans to do so.

Although Germany has become continental Europe’s biggest supplier of arms to Ukraine, the German government and Scholz have faced periodic criticism, especially ahead of a decision in January to supply battle tanks, over perceived reluctance to step up aid.


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