Poland ready to place all its MIG-29 jets at the disposal of U.S.

A Polish Air Force MiG-29 aircraft fires flares during a performance at the Radom Air Show at an airport in Radom August 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

WARSAW, March 8 (Reuters) - Poland is ready to deploy all its MIG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the United States, and urges other NATO members that own planes of that type to do the same, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

U.S. lawmakers pushed President Joe Biden's administration on Monday to facilitate the transfer of fighter aircraft to Ukraine from Poland as well as other NATO and Eastern European countries, after a plea on Saturday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. read more

"The authorities of the Republic of Poland ... are ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MIG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America," the ministry said.

"At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes," it said in a statement.

Ukraine's military already flies Russian-made aircraft, making them the best choice for Ukrainian pilots who already know how to operate them, experts say. Combat pilot training on U.S.-made aircraft can take years and requires a different pipeline for maintenance.

In neighbouring Slovakia, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad reiterated the country's general aim was to replace Russian military equipment, including MiG-29 fighter jets, but said the country was not yet ready for such as step.

"At the moment, we don't have a replacement for the MiGs, but we are doing everything to speed up the processes," Nad said in a statement released after he spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.

Poland is supporting Kyiv with defensive weapons, but has said it would not send jets to Ukraine, as it is not a direct party to the conflict between Ukraine - which is not a NATO ally - and Russia.

"...any decisions on delivering offensive weapons have to be taken by the entire NATO and on a unanimous basis," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday during a joint news conference with his Norwegian counterpart in Oslo.

"This is why we are ready to give all of our fleet of jet fighters to Ramstein, but we are not ready to make any moves on our own because, as I said, we are not party to this war," he added.

Reporting by Anna Koper; Additional reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Gareth Jones and Sandra Maler

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