Poland has promised to send more MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Warsaw on Wednesday to strengthen ties with his key ally. Poland was the first NATO member to pledge combat aircraft to Ukraine last month, followed by Slovakia, in a significant boost to Kyiv’s battle to resist Russia’s onslaught.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said he would send four more jets soon and another six were being prepared. He also said he would transfer Poland’s entire remaining MiG fleet to Ukraine in the future, if needed. Poland had 29 operational MiG jets before it began sending them to Ukraine, according to local media.
Duda also reiterated Poland’s firm support for Ukraine’s bid to join NATO and said he was trying to secure additional security guarantees for his neighbor. He said Poland and Ukraine were “real friends” who shared common values and interests.
Zelensky thanked Poland for its solidarity and assistance against Russia’s aggression. He said Poland was one of the first countries to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year and to provide humanitarian and military aid. He also said he hoped for more cooperation in areas such as energy, trade and infrastructure.
Zelensky’s visit came amid rising tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders and has launched a full-scale invasion of its eastern regions, where it backs separatist rebels. The conflict has killed more than 14,000 people since 2014 and displaced millions more.
The US and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia and have pledged diplomatic and military support to Ukraine. They have also urged Russia to de-escalate the situation and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Western intelligence services of being involved in terror attacks on Russia and has justified the invasion as a response to Ukraine’s aspiration to join NATO.
Zelensky’s visit also coincided with a domestic dispute in Poland over grain imports from Ukraine. Polish farmers have been protesting for weeks against cheaper Ukrainian grain that has flooded the market after the EU scrapped customs duties and quotas on grain imports from Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. They have demanded more financial compensation from the EU and the return of export restrictions.
Poland’s agriculture minister Henryk Kowalczyk resigned on Wednesday over the issue, blaming the European Commission for failing to meet the farmers’ demands. Zelensky said he had discussed the matter with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and that they had found a way out of the situation that would be announced soon.