European plan to donate fighter jets to Ukraine collapses

But the announcement by EU security chief Josep Borrell on Sunday that fighter jets were also on the way appeared to be a game-changer for European military assistance. Borrell was forced to backtrack somewhat on his statement on Monday, acknowledging that any transfer would not come from the EU itself, but rather would be given “bilaterally” by individual EU countries.

Shortly after, a Ukrainian government official told POLITICO that his country had sent pilots to Poland to pick up the planes and the Ukrainian parliament announced that the planes from Slovakia, Bulgaria and Poland would soon be on their way. But on Tuesday, Bulgaria and Slovakia said there was no agreement to send fighters, and the Polish president, appearing at a Polish airbase alongside NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, said said no planes would be flying anytime soon.

“We are supporting Ukrainians with humanitarian aid. However, we will not send any jet planes into Ukrainian airspace,” President Andrzej Duda said.

Slovakia’s small fleet of MiG-29s are the country’s only fighter jets, and they are maintained by Russian contract workers, making their transfer difficult to sell in Bratislava.

The Slovak government is also engaged in talks with Poland to ensure the protection of Slovak airspace, and until that agreement is reached, they need their MiG-29s.

Asked in a interview with a Slovak newspaper On Tuesday, if the country ever transfers its MiGs to Ukraine, Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said “there is a theoretical chance, but I don’t know when we will come to an agreement with the Poles, when the Poles can start protecting our airspace. And the second thing, what’s going to happen in Ukraine in two weeks, three weeks? And in two months? I don’t know.”

In a move likely to increase pressure on Europe to act, Ukraine’s parliament on Monday tweeted that Europe was sending 70 fighter jets to Ukraine, including 28 MiG-29s from Poland, 12 from Slovakia and 16 from Bulgaria, as well as 14 Su-25s from Bulgaria.

The fighter jet drama added to a flurry of announcements over the weekend that saw European leaders promise a flood of new weapons to Ukraine’s military to help combat invading troops Russians, an open and very public acknowledgment of Europe’s new willingness to inflict pain on the Kremlin for its military adventurism.

With air corridors to Kiev closed by Russian anti-aircraft weapons and fighter jets, American and European powers began to smuggle weapons into the country by road.

Poland, Estonia and Latvia were among the first to act, sending ammunition, Javelin anti-armour weapons, fuel and medical supplies to the Ukrainian border to be handed over to Ukrainian forces.

On Monday, Finland announced it would join the club, pledging 2,500 assault rifles, ammunition, 1,500 anti-tank weapons and 70,000 ration packages to Ukraine. Sweden is also preparing a major arms and aid package, announcing the upcoming delivery of 135,000 field rations, 5,000 helmets, body armor and 5,000 anti-tank weapons.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly travels to Poland on Tuesday to coordinate the shipment of 100 Carl Gustaf anti-armour rocket launchers, along with 2,000 munitions and other aid.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the trip, she said: “We will be able to ensure we send lethal aid to Ukraine. My role is to ensure that this aid reaches the arms of Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting for their lives and for their country. This is exactly why I was able to get an agreement from Poland to ensure that this delivery could be made across their borders.

One of the biggest surprises in recent European political history came on Saturday, when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced he would send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine, a reversal of German policy to post-war policy of prohibiting the transfer of arms to warring parties. He also promised an immediate injection of $100 billion into the German military.

President Joe Biden also ordered the delivery of up to $350 million in weapons from US stockpiles to Ukraine on Friday. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Monday, a senior US Department of Defense official declined to go into specifics about what will be included, but said “there will be capabilities in there to help them both with their ground defensive capabilities and their airborne defensive capabilities.”

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