Maliki, Slovakia (Reuters) – Slovakia signed an agreement on Saturday under which NATO countries Czech and Poland will monitor their airspace as Bratislava withdraws Soviet-made MiG-29s, potentially freeing up old ones for sending to Ukraine. .
Slovakia said it was ready to send 11 MiG fighters to Ukraine, whose army has long relied on Soviet-era equipment and which has appealed to NATO countries for more supplies to bolster its ability to fight invading Russian forces.
Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav told reporters at an air show on Saturday that Bratislava was still ready to send planes to neighboring Ukraine, but no agreement had been reached yet.
“There is a political will and, logically, to help those who need help,” Nad said. The possibility is on the table, and as soon as an agreement is reached, we will inform you.”
Western countries and their allies have bolstered their military aid to Ukraine with money, equipment and training in the more than six-month conflict with Russia.
Slovakia, with a population of 5.4 million, has already donated an S-300 air defense system, Mi-series military helicopters, self-propelled howitzers and Grad multiple launch rockets. This week it said it would send 30 BVP-1 tracked infantry fighting vehicles.
Nad, which estimated the MiGs at 300 million euros ($299 million), said Slovakia would ask for some financial or material compensation for its donations to support the modernization of its army.
Under Saturday’s deal with Slovakia’s neighbors, the Czech Republic and Poland will patrol their skies from September while Slovakia awaits the delivery of 14 new US F-16 fighters. The F-16 deal was signed in 2018 and deliveries of the aircraft are scheduled for 2024.
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(Reporting by Jerry Skassel in Malachi and Jason Hovet in Prague; Editing by Edmund Blair)
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