The Czech Republic and Poland will guard the airspace of neighboring Slovakia as the NATO member bids farewell to its Russian-made MiG-29 planes before receiving US hardware, its defense ministry said Saturday.

Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad, his Czech counterpart Jana Cernochova and Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak signed a deal to that effect.

“The deal will come into force on September 1, when Slovakia’s MiG-29 fighter jets will be grounded,” defense ministry spokesperson Martina Koval Kakascikova said in a statement.

The ministry said earlier it would be decommissioning MiGs as their maintenance has become very costly, and their Russian technicians are gradually leaving Slovakia.

In April, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his country could send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine but gave no details.

On August 14, Nad denied reports that Slovakia had handed jets to Ukraine.

He said Slovakia is currently considering what to do with them, but no final decisions have been made.

The Czech Republic and Poland will protect Slovakia’s airspace until new US F-16 fighter jets are supplied to replace the MiG-29s, with delivery slated for 2024.


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