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17 Mar, 2023 14:26

NATO states using Ukraine to dispose of old weapons – Kremlin

Moscow warns that the planes Poland and Slovakia are sending to Kiev will be destroyed
NATO states using Ukraine to dispose of old weapons – Kremlin

Plans by Poland and Slovakia to send Soviet-era warplanes to Ukraine look like attempts to dispose of antiquated equipment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during his Friday press briefing.

"This is another example of how a number of NATO member states, including Poland, are raising their direct involvement in the conflict," he announced, reacting to the recent announcements that Warsaw and Bratislava will send Soviet-designed MiG-29 warplanes to Kiev. Peskov added that it would not affect the outcome of Russia’s military operation but instead "may lead to additional suffering for Ukraine itself and its people."

"It seems like these countries [Poland and Slovakia] are just disposing of old equipment they no longer need," Peskov said. The MiG-29 was designed in the 1970s and entered service in the 1980s.

Warsaw’s plan to transfer four of the fighters to Kiev "in the next few days" was announced by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki earlier this week. This makes Poland the first NATO country to pledge warplanes to Ukraine. The country has 28 MiG-29s, but it is unclear how many of them are in working condition, as the country has sought to update its air force with US- and South Korean-made fighters.

Slovakia, also a NATO member, similarly announced on Friday that it would send 13 of its MiGs to Kiev. However, the jets were retired last year, and several reports have suggested that most are not in operational condition.

Ukraine has been requesting warplanes, specifically American-made F-16s, for its military, despite US President Joe Biden confirming in January that Washington has no plans to send warplanes to Kiev. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz similarly stated the same month that Berlin was not discussing transferring its own F-16s.

French President Emmanuel Macron, however, commented in January that he would not rule out sending fighter jets to Ukraine. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced in February that while London would be training Ukrainian pilots, that there was still no decision on actually sending Western-made fighter jets to Kiev.

Moscow has warned on numerous occasions that arming Ukraine was akin to playing with fire and that Western countries had practically become a party to the conflict.

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