The UK is ready to help Poland fill any gaps in the country’s air defence that resulted from sending their fighter jets to Ukraine, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said on Monday.
London offered to send its Challengers 2 in compensation for the T-72 Poland donated to Ukraine, echoing a similar move it made with tanks.
“We will look very positively at a Polish request to fill in the gaps that have arisen,” he said, as quoted by The Telegraph. However, Warsaw has made no such request so far, he added.
Last week, Poland said it would deliver its MiG-29 fighter jets to war-torn Ukraine, making it the first country to provide this kind of military equipment that Kyiv has long been asking for.
Besides Poland, Slovakia has also announced it would send its MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine as it will replace its ageing fleet with the F-16 fighter jets it ordered from the US in 2018. The first planes are expected to be delivered in 2024.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly stressed that his country needs fighter jets to effectively fight back against Russia’s invasion despite the UK and the US has so far ruled out sending their F-16s.
However, many other NATO countries believe that sending such fighters to Ukraine would escalate the conflict and that Russia would see this as NATO states entering the war by proxy.
Poland would “certainly” not send as many fighter jets as it sent tanks to Ukraine, which is 14, the head of President Andrzej Duda’s office said last week.
Poland will deliver four jets in the coming days, Duda announced last week, quoted by RMF FM radio. The other would be serviced and supplied gradually, he added.
(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)