Poland and the Czech Republic have agreed to protect Slovakia’s airspace as the country seeks to retire its 11 Soviet-era fighter planes.
At an air show this weekend, the defence ministers from the three countries signed the agreement which will allow the Polish and Czech air forces to patrol Slovak skies until the arrival of newer, more modern planes.
The promise of protection comes as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its seventh month. The deal also aims to ensure a quick response in case of air border violations on Slovak territory.
The Russian MiG-29s will be replaced by American F-16s and are set to be delivered in 2024.
The Slovak defence minister, Jaroslav Nad said that the decommissioned fleet may be donated to its neighbour Ukraine, under certain conditions. Since February 2022, the country has been at war with Russia and the eastern European nations fear potential spill overs onto their respective territories.
Alongside her Slovak and Polish counterparts, Czech defence minister, Jana Cernochova said,
“In the immediate proximity of our region where we live came a war, and all of us who are standing here today either have experience with fascism or communism, and we really value the freedom that we gained after 1989.”
At a press conference, Nad said the treaty between the three countries was a sign of Slovakia’s close relations with Poland and the Czech Republic and strength of their alliance. He added that while Slovakia was in talks with Ukraine and its European Union allies about how best to help, he did not know how that help might look like yet.
Poland steps up its defence
Meanwhile Poland has signed an almost 6-billion-euro arms contract with South Korea.
In what is thought to be South Koreas biggest ever arms deal, 180 K2 Black Panther tanks and more than 200 K9 howitzers will be supplied to the eastern European country as well as various types of ammunition. All the items secured in the deal are set to arrive in Poland by the end of 2025.
During a ceremony at a Polish military base, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Mariusz Blaszczak signed the contracts with the head of South Korea’s defense acquisition program administration, Minister Eom Dong-hwan.
Also present at the ceremony were the heads of Hyundai Rotem and Hanhwa Defense, the two companies in charge of the contract, along with the tank crews selected to use the new models.
The Polish soldiers are set to visit Seoul in October to familiarise themselves with the equipment.
The two nations also plan to sign another deal for the purchase of 12 FA-50 planes.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, Poland has been strengthening its armed forces, in order to increase its defence and deterrence capabilities. The former Soviet satellite state is also seeking a technology transfer so that it can launch production domestically.