(CNN) On Thursday Poland pledged to send four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the first NATO member to do so, in an important step in the battle for Kiev to resist the Russian offensive.
Thursday’s announcement comes after NATO allies agreed earlier this year to send modern Western battle tanks to Ukraine. president Andrey DudaThe announcement that Poland would send the Soviet-designed aircraft could now pressure other countries in the alliance to provide fighter aircraft.
“We can say with confidence that we are sending MiGs to Ukraine,” Duda told reporters. “We have a dozen or so MiGs that we got in the 1990s from the GDR and they are working and playing a role in defending our airspace. They are at the end of their operational lives but they are still working,” Duda added.
Poland was one of the European countries most vocal against Russia – even before the invasion of Ukraine. Russia is still seen by many in Polish political and diplomatic circles in the context of the Cold War. Warsaw has long viewed Putin as untrustworthy and Russian expansionism as something to fight at all costs. It is one of the few NATO countries that is required by law to meet defense spending commitments of 2% of GDP, and is an active member of the European defense community.
While sending the MiGs is a break with the alliance, it is not an unexpected move and is entirely in line with Poland’s membership in NATO. It could change the dynamic within the alliance, acting as a catalyst for more countries to do so, or upset countries that oppose NATO’s further involvement in the conflict such as Hungary.
The bigger question will be whether it will put pressure on the United Kingdom and the United States, which will do the same for Germany. In the end, creating this pressure on the other allies may have been Poland’s intention.
German Chancellor Olaf Schultz announced that his country would provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks in January, subject to intense international pressure led by the United States, Poland and a bloc of other European countries, which called on Berlin to intensify its military support and commit to that. Send their desired cars.
That announcement was matched by the United States, with President Joe Biden saying it would provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reflecting the administration’s longstanding resistance to Kiev’s requests for highly advanced but maintenance-heavy vehicles.
In addition to the tanks, Ukraine is also pressing the United States to provide fighter jets, arguing that it needs the planes to defend against Russian missile and drone attacks.
But that push has been met with skepticism from US and allied officials, who say the planes would be impractical because they require too much training and Russia has extensive anti-aircraft systems that it could easily shoot down.
US and European officials He previously told CNN that F-16 fighter jets were unwieldy in this situation. Germany has ruled out delivering fighter jets to Ukraine altogether while British government officials echoed the same sentiment and said they believed it was not practical to send planes to Ukraine.
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