Slovakia Says MiG-29 Transfer To Ukraine Back On The Table
SLOVAKIA - Slovakia's Prime Minister now says that the MiG-29 transfer over to Ukraine is back on the table. Eduard Heger said that discussions regarding NATO providing Ukraine with the MiG-29 jets have been renewed due to "how Russia behaves".
Heger spoke to POLITICO and said that his government was asked to provide Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets, as well as Zuzana self-propelled howitzers and that the discussions are ongoing.
Heger said that the Slovakian government wanted to move away from the Russian designed MiG-29 fighter aircraft anyway, due to the fact that one 'cannot sustain' Russian equipment without a 'relationship' with Russia.
The Minister of the Interior, Roman Mikulec also commented on the MiG-29 fighter jets and said that they would soon have a problem "keeping them in the air", due to the fact that Russian mechanics are leaving Slovakia.
"This is equipment that we want to finish anyway, because we’re waiting for the F-16s", Heger said, referring to F-16s made in the United States that the country is set to receive in 2024.
Heger stated that Slovakia is "in a very intensive discussion with our partners" about who would be protecting the country's airspace. "After that, we can consider speaking about this equipment in regard with Ukraine as well".
POLITICO said that Heger was asked if this means that Slovakia may be able to transfer some planes to Ukraine if it receives 'certain guarantees' from Western partners, to which he said "This is what we talk about. Yea".
Although Heger didn't mention just how many MiG fighter jets the country would be giving, Slovakia is known to have around a dozen of them.
Mikulec also spoke of decommissioning the MiGs until the delivery of the American F-16 fighers in 2024, saying that in that event the protection of the airspace could be provided by Americans from bases in Poland.
"There are several possibilities, in any case I will leave it to the soldiers - ours or [NATO] alliances in terms of planning" Mikulec stated.
Slovakia also donated an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, a decision that the Minister of the Interior Roman Mikulec said was not easy to make. (translation) "Those views were different, but it is very important that in the end the decision was consensual" he stated.
He said that the S-300 system would be phased out next year anyway due to the fact that Slovakia does not have a secured supply of spare parts or system service, according to Slovakian news agency pravda.sk.
"The Patriot, as an air defense system, is much more effective than the S-300, just by being able to track multiple targets. It even has more than double the reach" Mikulec stated.
Slovakian Pravda also said that the Minister of Defense Jaroslav Nad confirmed that Slovakia is negotiating with Ukraine on a possible supply of Zuzana self-propelled howitzers, but that it would not be a donation, but a sale. He said that whether it would be the Zuzana 2000 or Zuzana 2 is being debated.
"And we are also talking about the possibility of damaged Ukrainian combat vehicles and T-72 or T-55 tanks coming to our territory and in our military repair companies we would repair them and return them to Ukraine", the minister said.
Heger told POLITICO that while Slovakia has heavily relied on Russia for oil and gas, the country is working to reduce its reliance. "We are trying to do everything possible and prepare for as early as possible disconnection from Russian oil and gas" he stated.
"But we need the solidarity. We are at the end of the chain" he said, saying that Slovakia would require 'guarantees' from 'some countries' that they "will transit what we need — our people cannot stay without gas or oil."
"Oil is I think a little easier, gas is a little more difficult" he said, and said that sanctions "must harm Putin more than harm us".