Poland could provide Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets within four to six weeks if a coalition of allies signs off on the plan, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Tuesday.
Morawiecki said last week that Poland was prepared to provide Soviet-designed MiG-29 jets to Ukraine as part of a coalition of countries. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged allies to provide the jets, and Morawiecki has supported the plan. The U.S. and other Western nations have balked, suggesting such a move would ramp up the war.
The Polish military has about 28 of the jets, but the prime minister did not say how many he would be willing to commit to Ukraine. Slovakia has said it was considering transferring 10 of its 11 MiG-29 jets; the last one will go to a museum.
Ukrainian pilots are already flying MiG-29 fighters, so very little or no additional training would be needed.
‘THIS IS INHUMANE’:Poland, Slovakia ready to send fighter jets to Kyiv. Updates
►A Russian missile struck an apartment building in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, killing at least one person and wounding nine in one of Ukraine’s major city strongholds in its Donetsk province.
►Russia’s soccer team, barred from European and FIFA competitions, has been invited to participate in the inaugural Central Asian Football Association Championships in June with Afghanistan, Iran and former Soviet republics Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.
MERCENARY RECRUITING:Russia’s Wagner Group seeking recruits in high schools; Moscow wants to renew grain deal for shorter term: Live Ukraine updates
Collision with Russian fighter jet sends U.S. drone crashing into Black Sea
An “unsafe and unprofessional intercept” by a Russian fighter jet caused a collision with an Air Force surveillance drone that sent it crashing into the Black Sea on Tuesday morning, the U.S. military said.
The incident occurred when two Russian SU-27 fighters intercepted the MQ-9 Reaper drone and one of them clipped the propeller of the drone, showing the pilot’s “lack of competence,” according to a statement from U.S. European Command. U.S. operators were forced to bring the drone down in international waters.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” Air Force Gen. James Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said in a statement. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
At a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia because of the war in Ukraine, these kind of encounters “are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation,” the statement said.
— Tom Vanden Brook
Russian soldiers accused of sexually assaulting 4-year-old girl
Ukraine has accused two Russian soldiers of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and gang-raping her mother at gunpoint in front of her father, Reuters reported, citing Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office. The attack was one in a series of sexual crimes allegedly committed by six Russian soldiers from the 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade in four houses in the Brovary District near Kyiv in March 2022.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating more than 71,000 war crimes suspected to have been committed by Russian soldiers.
DeSantis dismisses war as ‘territorial dispute’ between Ukraine and Russia
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, expected to join the race for the GOP presidential nomination, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that aiding Ukraine is not a vital interest for the United States.
“While the U.S. has many vital national interests – securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence and checking the economic, cultural and military power of the Chinese Communist Party – becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis wrote in response to a Fox News questionnaire shared by Carlson on Twitter.
President Joe Biden has pledged to support Ukraine “as long as it takes” – a position DeSantis criticized for lacking defined objectives.
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
Russia toughens punishment for discrediting war leaders
Russia’s parliament ratified amendments to the Russian Criminal Code providing harsher punishments for “discrediting participants” of the war. Punishment can include up to 15 years in prison, including five years of forced labor or seven for repeated violations that put Russians in danger. Fines can reach almost $70,000.
The Institute for the Study of War says the Kremlin could use the amendments to promote self-censorship among military bloggers, especially those whose venting has “exceeded the Kremlin’s tolerance for open criticism.”
Contributing: The Associated Press