Germany signs off on Polish fighter jet shipment to Ukraine

Berlin gives green light for Warsaw to re-export five Mig-29s that previously belonged to the East German military

File: A view of a MiG-29 aircraft at Sliac Air Base, in Sliac, Slovakia, February 29, 2008. (Jozef Durník/TASR via AP)
File: A view of a MiG-29 aircraft at Sliac Air Base, in Sliac, Slovakia, February 29, 2008. (Jozef Durník/TASR via AP)

BERLIN — Germany on Thursday approved a request from Poland for the re-export of five Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine, one of Kyiv’s key requests to help repel Russia’s forces.

Germany has approved “the delivery of five MiG-29 from the inventories of the (East German) National People’s Army,” Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement.

The Soviet-designed jets came into the possession of the German army following reunification, and were sold to Poland in 2003.

Under the contract, Poland had to request permission from Berlin to pass the jets on to another country — in this case Ukraine.

“This shows you can rely on Germany,” Pistorius said.

Germany and Poland had clashed in recent months over battle tanks to Ukraine, with Warsaw urging Berlin to approve the delivery of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Germany relented in January, agreeing in the end to send a total of 18 of its own Leopards to Ukraine.

That green light from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz only came after the United States said it would send 31 of its own Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

While the tank dispute centered on providing Kyiv with higher quality Western-made weapons, the jets replenish Ukraine’s stores of Soviet-made equipment.

Poland was the first NATO member to pledge fighter jets to Ukraine in March and began deliveries in early April.

Warsaw has said it is ready to give away all of its MiG-29s — around 30 — though not all were purchased from Germany.

Poland’s neighbor Slovakia has also delivered the Soviet-made fighter jet to Ukraine.

But despite requests from Kyiv, no modern fighter jets such as the US-designed F-16 have been pledged, with Washington and Berlin ruling out sending warplanes.

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