(Reuters) -Slovakia on Friday became the second of Ukraine’s allies to provide MIG-29 fighter jets which Kyiv believes are crucial to repel Russia’s year-long invasion.
Slovakia joined Poland, which announced its delivery of the planes on Thursday. Both the NATO members neighbour Ukraine.
Its fleet of 11 MiG-29 planes was retired last summer and most of them are not in operational condition. It will send those that are operational and the rest will go for spare parts.
Slovakia will also supply part of its KUB air-defence system, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said.
“Today, the government decided and unanimously approved an international agreement (on the donation),” Heger said.
“The process of handing over these fighter jets is closely coordinated with the Polish side, with Ukraine and, of course, with other allies,” he said.
Slovakia will receive financial compensation the European Union. It has also reached an agreement with the United States on deliveries of military material worth around $700 million, Heger said.
NATO allies in the former communist east such as Poland and Slovakia have been particularly vocal supporters of Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
On Thursday, Poland announced it would send Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets in coming days, making it the first of Kyiv’s allies to provide such aircraft.
Western countries that have provided Ukraine with arms have so far declined to send fighter jets.
Slovakia ordered F-16 fighter jets from the United States in 2018 to replace the ageing MiG-29 planes. The first U.S.-made planes are expected to arrive in 2024 after a delay.
Heger’s government is ruling in a caretaker capacity until early elections set for September, which made the opposition and even some members of the ruling coalition question whether the cabinet is permitted to decide on such thing as the MiGs.
Heger said that law experts which his government consulted all said that the move was legally sound.
(Reporting by Robert Muller in Prague; Writing by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk;Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Angus MacSwan)
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