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First Polish MiG-29 fighter jets arrive in Ukraine, Warsaw confirms

FILE - A Ukrainian MIG-29 fighter jet is parked at the Vasilkov air base outside outside Kiev, Ukraine, Nov. 23, 2016.
FILE - A Ukrainian MIG-29 fighter jet is parked at the Vasilkov air base outside outside Kiev, Ukraine, Nov. 23, 2016. Copyright Efrem Lukatsky/Copyright 2016 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Efrem Lukatsky/Copyright 2016 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with Agencies
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Last month Poland and Slovakia became the first Western countries to announce the shipment of 41 MiG-29s to Ukraine, thereby crossing what was until then a red line in sending military equipment to the country.

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The first Polish MiG-29 fighter jets have arrived in Ukraine, a spokesperson for Poland's presidency confirmed on Monday. 

The Polish official did not specify how many aircraft have been handed over to the Ukrainian authorities and said "Ukraine will call for more support" from its allies during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's official visit to Warsaw on Wednesday.

Last month, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that "in the coming days" Poland would deliver four MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine and that "other (aircraft) are being prepared and will probably be delivered soon".

A day later, Slovakia also announced the decision to deliver 13 of these Soviet-made aircraft, although experts estimate that, due to their condition, some of these aircraft will be used for spare parts.

As Duda explained, "these are MiG-29s (aircraft), which were still active in our country's air defence, but their importance is secondary. We still have a dozen of them that we received in the 1990s from the GDR (former German Democratic Republic) army".

The MiG-29 fighters had been used by the Ukrainian air force since before the outbreak of the conflict, so their pilots are familiar with their operation.

Last week, the Ukrainian authorities announced that the first Slovak MiG-29s were already taking part in combat missions in the Kharkiv region.

While Poland plans to replace the aircraft delivered to Ukraine with the recent purchase of 48 South Korean FA-50s and 32 US-produced F-35A Lightning IIs, Slovakia will receive 12 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and 600 Hellfire II missiles from US-based Lockheed Martin through a low-cost procurement programme.

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