Russia believed to have sabotaged Slovak MiG-29s provided to Ukraine
MiG-29 fighter jets launch from Sliač Airbase in Slovakia, March 23, 2023 (Photo:Slovak Ministry Of Defence/Handout via REUTERS)
Russian technical experts stationed at Slovakia’s Sliac airbase until 2022 could have sabotaged repairs on Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, Slovak Minister of Defense, Jaroslav Nad, told Euroactiv on April 7.
The minister said that while there were parts of the engine Slovak experts could access, there were also parts only accessible to Russian experts. Defects appeared only in the parts where the Russian experts could access, he said. The Slovak army stopped using the planes in August 2022 and they were transferred to Ukraine in March 2023.
“They knew how to fly, but that does not mean they were capable of fighting. The Ukrainians came to Slovakia a week before the departure of the planes, brought spare parts, and inspected the planes,” Nad said.
While Slovak police investigated the sabotage claims, they did not find enough evidence to prove the allegations.
The Slovak Ministry of Defense “felt a loss of trust in Russian technicians in Sliac because mistakes continued to appear in areas that only they could have accessed,” he said.
Retired Slovak pilot Lieutenant General Lubomir Svoboda suggested that the Russians deliberately caused damage to the planes, he told Dennik N. He recounted that after the Russians took possession of an engine, it was flown for only 70 hours instead of the expected 350.
Slovakia handed over four Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine on March 23, becoming the first NATO country to provide Ukraine with combat aircraft.
Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Olena Kondratyuk announced on March 30 that the aircraft were already guarding the airspace above Kharkiv.
The provision of modernized Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets to the country will be a significant aid, but it is unlikely to lead to any significant changes on the front lines, said the Ukrainian Air Force.
They stated that the planes are not equipped with onboard radars and cannot launch modern missiles, emphasizing that Ukraine needs modern Western fighter jets.
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