Russia Calls Slovakia’s MiG-29 Transfer to Kiev Illegal
By Rohit Srivastava
At last, the Ukrainian demand for fighter jets to counter Russian air supremacy over their airspace seems to be getting fulfilled. On March 23, Bratislava transferred first of the 13 Soviet-era MiG-29, air superiority fighter jets to Ukraine. Russian government has called this as a violation of the term and condition between Russian Federation and Republic of Slovakia.
According to a statement of the Russian Federal Services for the Military-Technical Cooperation(FSMTC), “Slovakia grossly violated international obligations on the re-export of Russian-made weapons, as stated in Article 6 of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Slovak Republic on Military-Technical Cooperation of April 29, 1997.”
The agreement states that “"each of the Contracting Parties will not sell or transfer weapons and military equipment to third countries without its written consent of the other Contracting Party, technical documentation for their production, information and materials obtained or acquired as a result of bilateral military-technical cooperation."
Slovakia in a press statement of March 23, informed that the first four jets have been flown by Ukrainian pilots to Ukrain. Commenting on the transfer, Defence Minister of Slovakia, Jaroslav Naď, said, “I want to thank all those involved for the fantastic professional work they have put in. Slovakia is on the right side, and with this gesture, we as a country have written ourselves in capital letters in modern world history, which speak of timely assistance, sincere solidarity and the greatness of the nation.”
The agreement for the donation to the 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 Fulcrums and two SA-6 "Gainful" ("Kub") surface-to-air missile (SAM) was signed on March 17 by Jaroslav Naď and Ambassador of Ukraine to Slovakia Myroslav Kastran.
Refuting the Russian claim of violation of agreement, Slovakia claims that no such document is in their possession. Calling the statement an attempt at misleading the world community, FSMTC said, “we are ready to assist the Slovak Side by providing it with a copy of the original of the relevant intergovernmental document stored in the archives of the Russian Federation.”
FSMTC further stated that Slovakia received ‘Fulkrum’ after the signing of the agreement on July 8, 1993 between Russia and Slovakia. The Article 14.6 of this contract obligates "the customer will not sell or transfer formally without the consent of the supplier or actually deliver the special equipment and technical documentation or information about them to other countries or allow a third party or any private or legal persons other than officials or specialists from the customer's country to use this special equipment and technical documentation," FSMTC said.
After Poland, Slovakia is the second nation to send fighter jets to Ukraine. On March 16, while addressing press, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced, "In the coming days we will first transfer, if I remember correctly, four fully operational planes to Ukraine." Earlier Poland has said that the fighter jet transfer to Ukrain is only possible under larger international coalition.
The Russian statement further states that “in 2009, the Slovak Ministry of Defense signed a contract with JSC RSC ‘MiG’ for subscription service of MiG-29 aircraft of the Slovak Air Force. The Russian Side has been steadily fulfilling its obligations to maintain the specified aircraft in combat-ready condition throughout the time. However, last year the Slovak Side announced the termination of this agreement.”
Russia has also demanded return of the aircraft maintenance as part of the fulfillment of contractual obligations, and payment for the services already rendered which remained unresolved.
“Despite the repeated offers of the Federal Customs Service of Russia and Russian contractors to settle the current situation in a civilized manner, the Slovak Defense Ministry evades negotiations and resolving these issues. The equipment delivered under the conditions of temporary importation continues to be illegally held by the Slovak Side and can be transferred to Ukraine,” FSMTC added.
Russia assesses the Slovakia’s conduct as a violation of “not only of its contractual obligations, but also of international export control regulations.”