NATO Member Says Slovak MiG-29 Transfer to Ukraine Was Illegal

Slovakia’s defense ministry has declared the 2023 transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine as illegal.

According to Igor Melicher, State Secretary of the Slovak Ministry of Defense, the previous government in Bratislava lacked the authority to donate the Soviet-era MiG-29 warplanes to Kyiv. 

In March 2023, the interim government under Prime Minister Eduard Heger authorized the delivery of 13 MiG-29s, as reported by Slovak national broadcaster TASR. The new government, led by Robert Fico, has subsequently requested a legal review of the shipment. 

“The MiG-29 fighter jets were delivered to Ukraine illegally,” Melicher stated on Facebook Tuesday. He added that the Defense Ministry is “preparing a legal action.” 

Melicher’s statement follows ombudsman Robert Dobrovodsky’s revelation that the government has failed to locate the required legal analysis supporting the donation of the MiG-29s to Kyiv.

“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 was not authorized to make final decisions regarding the delivery of the aircraft 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 Robert Fico, who survived an assassination attempt by a pro-Ukrainian activist last month, has opposed supplying arms to Kyiv and insisted that the conflict should be resolved through diplomacy.

Defense Minister Robert Kalinak has also criticized his predecessor, stating 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.” 

Kyiv has been urging its Western allies to expedite the delivery of US-made F-16 fighter jets. Politico magazine reported this month that Ukrainian officials were “frustrated” with the pace of existing training programs in the US and other countries, which were not producing enough pilots for the F-16s. 

Russia, for its part, has cautioned that no amount of Western military aid would deter its military operation in the neighboring state.