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12 Jun, 2024 00:03

NATO state claims delivery of jets to Kiev was ‘illegal’

The Slovak government had no right to send MiG-29 planes to Ukraine in 2023, a senior defense official has said
NATO state claims delivery of jets to Kiev was ‘illegal’

The previous government of Slovakia had no right to donate Soviet-era MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine, Bratislava's state secretary to the minister of defense, Igor Melicher has claimed. 

In March 2023, the interim government of Prime Minister Eduard Heger authorized the delivery of 13 MiG-29s to Kiev, according to the Slovak national broadcaster TASR.

The new government, led by Robert Fico, who is recovering from an assassination attempt by a pro-Ukrainian activist that he has blamed on a 'hateful' political climate, had requested a legal review of the shipment. 

On Tuesday, Melicher announced that “The MiG-29 fighter jets were delivered to Ukraine illegally,” adding that that the Defense Ministry is “preparing legal action.” 

Melicher made his statement after ombudsman Robert Dobrovodsky, tasked with reviewing the delivery of the aircraft, revealed that the government was unable to locate a legal analysis on the aid to Kiev.

“The ministry recently told me that it was trying to comply with the request and find the analysis. However, it said that neither it nor any of its branches had the analysis at their disposal,” Dobrovodsky told TASR on Tuesday. “It also stated that the analysis isn’t even registered in its databases in any form.” 

Melicher has argued that Heger’s caretaker government had no right to make final decisions on delivering the planes abroad. “The Constitution forbids an interim government to take major steps in foreign policy, and sending fighter jets worth more than €500 million ($537 million) is certainly such a step,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Fico, has opposed sending arms to Kiev and insisted that the conflict should be resolved through diplomacy.

Defense Minister Robert Kalinak has also criticized his predecessor, saying in May that the previous government had acted “in the most irresponsible way when it handed over [the weapons] that we needed for our own safety.” 

Kiev has been pressing its Western backers to expedite the planned delivery of US-made F-16 fighters. Politico magazine reported this month that Ukrainian officials were “frustrated” with how the existing training programs in the US and other countries had not been producing enough pilots for the F-16s. 

Russia has consistently warned against Western military aid to Ukraine, saying such supplies merely prolong the conflict without changing its outcome, and increase the risk of a dangerous escalation.