Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, met Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger during the extraordinary EU summit on February 9. According to a report from TASR, Zelensky had requested that Heger donate or sell, ex-Slovakian MiG-29 fighter jets.
According to the report,. Heger assured Zelensky that Slovakia would do everything possible to accommodate his request and that the matter will be debated both in the republic and at the EU level.
Heger said, military aid Ukraine, was “is in line with the national interests of Slovakia and the interests of European security.”
It is interesting to note that on August 2022, Slovakia had withdrawn its MiG-29 squadron from its air force. Currently 12 Slovak MiG-29s are lying grounded. In July 2022, there were talks of Slovakia donating these 12 fighter jets to Ukraine, following the Czech Republic agreeing to provide 12 F-16 fighter jets to protect Slovak skies.
In August 2022, Bratislava had accused Moscow of using propaganda tools to sway public opinion, especially in terms of military assistance to Ukraine. According to the results of a survey, only half of those polled agreed that Slovakia should sell its MiG-29 fleet to Ukraine in 2022.
At that time there were talks of Ukraine paying Slovakia 300 million euros for the purchase of the 12 MiG-29s. Despite the poll, Bratislava announced that it would continue to provide military support to Ukraine, but remained silent on the sale of fighter jets.
“Despite all Russian efforts to influence public opinion,” said Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nagy at that time.
He had also mentioned that Russian propaganda will not change the mood of the Slovakian people to stop or block further military equipment transfers to Ukraine.
According to the poll, 62% of Slovaks see Russia as a threat. The remaining 37% consider Moscow to be Slovakia’s most important strategic partner.
The Czech Air Force and their F-16s continue to patrol the skies over Slovakia. Slovakia has ordered 14 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D aircraft, which are currently in production and will be delivered to Bratislava in the coming years.
MiG-29 offer could be attractive to Ukraine
Ukraine may be interested in the Slovakian MiG-29 primarily for two reasons. First and foremost, they operate in a neighboring country. Second, they are from a newer version and have undergone a relatively simple upgrade process that primarily involves navigation, connectivity, and IFF systems to bring the machines up to NATO standards.
Some of this equipment may have to be dismantled before being handed over to Ukraine, but the method they used means that Slovak fighters can be used immediately and will last much longer than Bulgarian ones, since they are serviced quite regularly by manufacturers.