Slovakia will consider providing Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine if alternative protection of its own air space can be arranged, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on Monday.
Ukraine has asked for heavy weapons and planes as part of its defence against Russia, which invaded on Feb. 24.
Western nations have increasingly started supplying weapons but earlier discussions on providing MiG-29s – which are also used by Poland and Bulgaria – were halted because those plans were perceived as too risky in increasing tensions between Russia and NATO.
Ukraine’s neighbour Slovakia, a NATO member, operates 12 MiG-29 planes.
Slovakia has already given Ukraine its Soviet-designed S-300 air defence system.
“After how the Russian Federation has behaved now, Soviet-made equipment is becoming very risky. Therefore your question is in place and comes into consideration,” Heger said in response to a reporter’s question about asking allies to help secure Slovak air space and the possibility of giving MiG-29s to Ukraine.
“Post-Soviet equipment is not sustainable without Russian supplies and we do not at this moment even want those,” he said.
Heger said the defence ministry was in talks about securing the airspace with war planes.
Slovakia is expecting first deliveries of U.S.-made F-16 jets in 2024, from a batch of 18 it agreed to buy in 2018.
Russia calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have accused Russia of starting an unprovoked war and committing war crimes, which Moscow rejects.