Polish President Andrzej Duda said Thursday that his country would become the first NATO member to send fighter jets to Ukraine. File Photo by Jakub Szymczuk/KPRP/UPI | License Photo
March 16 (UPI) -- Polish President Andrzej Duda announced Thursday that his country would send fighter jets to Ukraine, becoming the first NATO nation to do so.
As part of the agreement, Ukraine will receive four Soviet-era MiG-29s, which were inherited from East Germany after the Berlin Wall came down. The announcement could put pressure on other NATO countries to also supply fighter jets.
"When it comes to the MiG-29 aircraft, which are still operating in the defense of Polish airspace, a decision has been taken at the highest levels, we can say confidently that we are sending MiGs to Ukraine," Duda said, according to CNN.
The United States has steadfastly refused to supply F-16s to Ukraine, saying that they require too much training and ground support.
"It doesn't change our calculus with respect to F-16s," John Kirby, a top official at the U.S. National Security Council, said Thursday, according to CNN.
"These are sovereign decisions for any country to make, and we respect those sovereign decisions," he said, adding later: "They get to determine not only what they're going to give but how they're going to characterize it."
However, Slovakia, Finland, and the Netherlands have said they would consider supplying Ukraine with warplanes, as well.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz already has announced that his country would provide their much-sought-after Leopard 2 tanks. And President Joe Biden said that the United States would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, too.