Ukraine’s military on Wednesday, April 20, issued a flat denial of international news reports that the United States had given Kyiv a heavy weapon badly needed to hold off the Kremlin’s massively superior air force: MiG-29 fighter jets.

“Ukraine has not received new airplanes from (foreign) partners. Ukraine has in fact received spare parts for the overhaul and repair of aircraft. This has allowed (Ukraine) to bring more aircraft to a combat-ready status,” the Ukraine Defense Ministry statement said in part.

Officials led by President Volodymyr Zelensky have been outspoken since the Kremlin’s 24 Feb. Invasion that Ukraine is critically short of fighter aircraft, leaving Ukrainian troops and civilian homes and businesses dangerously exposed to RF aircraft-delivered bombs and missiles. Western nations wishing to help Ukraine defend itself should send unused Soviet-manufacture fighters and bombers immediately, they have argued.


Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday said recent assistance by countries wanting to help Ukraine defend its skies has increased the numbers of Ukrainian air force combat-ready aircraft, but, all Washington has done in the process is help with spare parts. He denied America has sent combat aircraft to Ukraine.

“Other nations who have experience with those kinds of aircraft have been able to help them get more aircraft up and running…”(B)ut we have not transported the whole aircraft,” Kirby said. Aviation media on Tuesday were quick to parse Kirby’s comments, suggesting the Biden administration had in fact sold or handed over for free MiG-29 fighter jets owned by the US following a 1997 purchase from Moldova. During the 2000s the US air force used some of the planes for training, before grounding them as too difficult to maintain.

The military aircraft news website reported Ukraine will receive 21 complete airframes, all in non-flying condition. At the outset of the RF’s 24 Feb. invasion, the Ukrainian air force reportedly had around twenty combat-ready MiG-29s. RF state-controlled media since then has reported more Ukrainian MiG-29s shot down than Kyiv had when the war started. (UAF) officials do not make public numbers of combat-ready aircraft. Independent analysts have suggested the Ukrainian air force currently may be able to launch between zero and five MiG-29s on daily combat missions. RF fighter aircraft in the theater are thought to outnumber UAF fighter aircraft by at least ten to one.


President Joe Biden in March refused to allow Ukraine to buy Polish MiG-29 fighters based at a US airfield in Germany because of Washington’s fears that the sale would have provoked Russian aggression. Berlin likewise was against the deal because of the longstanding German policy of avoiding involvement in wars, and concerns flying the combat aircraft to Ukraine out of German air space would upset the Kremlin. Warsaw, the owner of the aircraft, had been strongly in favor of the transfer.

Bids to send Ukraine Soviet-era fighter jets from Slovakia and the Czech Republic likewise failed. According to news reports, the main problem was that the transfer would reduce ready combat aircraft levels lower than allowed per those countries’ NATO commitments.


Last week aviation news agencies widely reported an initiative to sell Ukraine Romanian MiG-21 fighter jets, an obsolete 1970s-era aircraft. Kyiv was unlikely to agree to the deal, Ukrainian news reports said at the time, because the plane is old and so dangerous to operate, that Romania grounded its entire MiG-21 fleet in early March, due to safety concerns.

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