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2 Jun, 2023 00:35

Poland won’t supply F-16s to Ukraine – PM

Mateusz Morawiecki has admitted he doesn’t have the fighter jets to spare
Poland won’t supply F-16s to Ukraine – PM

Warsaw does not have enough F-16 jets or Patriot air defense systems to send any to Ukraine, but other countries should do so right away, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters on Thursday. 

“We have too few F-16 aircraft, so at the moment, today, there are no such expectations from us,” Morawiecki said at a press conference at Castle Mimi in Moldova, on the first day of the European Political Community summit, according to Polskie Radio. 

The Polish Air Force officially has 48 F-16 fighters, 12 of which are training variants. It has ordered 48 Golden Eagle light jets from South Korea and 32 F-35s from the US, but they have not yet been delivered.

“We handed over our MiGs – good planes, good fighters, and this is greatly appreciated,” the Polish PM added. Poland followed Slovakia in sending Ukraine some of its 19 Soviet-era MiG-29 jets to make up Kiev’s losses over the past year.

Morawiecki also noted that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky thanked him for organizing the F-16 “coalition,” referring to the push by several NATO members to supply Kiev with the US-designed fighters. While many countries, including Poland, have offered to train Ukrainian pilots, it remains unclear where the planes would actually come from.

The Polish PM also had bad news for Kiev regarding the replacements for Patriot air defense systems damaged or destroyed by Russian missile strikes. 

“Just as we don’t have enough F-16 fighters, we can't hand over our Patriot systems to Ukraine for the same reason,” Morawiecki said, adding that it was important for other countries that had Patriots “to share them with Ukraine as soon as possible.”

Patriots and F-16s are the latest “game-changer” weapons Kiev has demanded from the West to bolster its forces’ combat capabilities against Russia, especially in the light of its planned counteroffensive. 

The Ukrainian government has already received German Leopard and British Challenger tanks, US-made HIMARS rocket launchers, a variety of towed and self-propelled NATO artillery, as well as portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets. Poland, meanwhile, has become a hub for arms supplies to Ukraine from other countries and a training ground for Ukrainian soldiers.

The US and the EU have also provided direct financial aid to Kiev to keep its government functioning. Russia has warned that military aid to Kiev makes Western countries de facto direct participants in the conflict, and said that foreign weapons systems would be treated as legitimate targets on the battlefield. 

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