The European Union’s promise to arm Ukraine with fighter jets to help fight the Russian invasion was seemingly falling apart as of Tuesday morning, with all three nations touted as contributors denying they would be involved.
Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia were reportedly on hand to transfer Russian-made MiG-29 and Su-24 fighter jets to Ukraine to bolster the country’s defense, as Kyiv’s combat aircraft are steadily degraded by Russian fighters and anti-aircraft weapons.
The three nations were said to be forming the core of the EU effort—announced Monday by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell—as they are believed to be the only bloc members with flight-ready Russian-made aircraft.
Any planes given to the Ukrainians need to be Russian-made so that Ukrainian pilots can fly them without additional time-consuming and costly training.
But it appears Borrell may have been too quick to promise new aircraft.
A spokesperson for the Slovakian Foreign Ministry told Newsweek on Tuesday morning: “Slovakia will not provide fighter jets to Ukraine.”
The spokesperson added that Slovakia has so far provided “humanitarian and material aid” worth more than $19 million: “We have provided medical and military materiel—to be exact, 120mm munitions, diesel and aviation fuel, air defense systems, anti-tank missiles.”
Bulgaria has also rejected the plan. Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Monday his country did not have enough serviceable aircraft or parts, and currently does not have sufficient fighters to guard its own airspace alone.
“We currently have few flying planes and they cannot be delivered to another country,” Petrov said, per Euractiv. “The other fake news I heard today is that we will be sending troops to Ukraine. There is absolutely nothing true in these two allegations.”
The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense said in a statement: “Such a topic has not been discussed in the Ministry of Defense.”Ukraine-Russia | Live News: Vladimir Putin’s Troops Siege Ukrainian Cities.
Poland’s Ministry of Defense refused to confirm or deny reports that it would provide jets.
The Ministry of Defense said in a statement: “Because of security reasons, which are obvious at this particular time, we cannot inform you about the details of the defense aid provided to Ukraine.”
Poland declined the Ukrainian request for fighter jets on Tuesday morning.
Polish President Andrej Duda said after a press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg: “We are not sending any jets to Ukraine because that would open a military interference in the Ukrainian conflict. We are not joining that conflict. NATO is not a party to that conflict.”
NATO nations are wary of being drawn into the conflict for fear it could lead to a nuclear confrontation with Moscow.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has already ordered his nuclear forces onto high alert, and the Kremlin has said that NATO nations would be considered responsible if the weapons they are supplying to Ukraine are used to kill Russian troops.
Ukrainian combat aircraft and helicopters are still flying despite Russian airstrikes against airfields at the start of the invasion last week. Russia’s inability to ground the Ukrainian air force has been touted as a serious failure by military experts.
The Ukrainian government has claimed to have destroyed 29 Russian planes, 29 helicopters, three drones, and seven anti-air systems since the invasion began. These figures have not been fully independently verified.
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