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The European Union agreed Sunday to send about $500 million in military aid to Ukraine for lethal weapons, plus another $55 million in nonlethal aid, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at a press conference in Brussels. The EU sending arms to a country at war is another first in a rapidly shifting geopolitical situation, including Germany and the U.S. providing Stinger missiles to Ukraine, Russia being effectively blocked from much of the global economy, and Russian President Vladimir Putin escalating nuclear tensions as the world responds negatively to his invasion of Ukraine.
Borrell also said the EU has already discussed a request from Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to supply his country's Air Force with specific type of fighter jets Ukrainian airmen can already pilot, and several EU member states intend to comply soon. An EU official said the fighter jets would not be paid for with the EU's $500 million European Peace Facility donation.
Ukrainian pilots fly Soviet-made MiG and Sukhoi jets, and former Soviet satellite EU nations Poland, Bulgaria, and Slovakia have such MiG-29s to donate, Defense One reports. Slovakia also has Su-25 supply planes. "It really would not be a big step, going from a Ukrainian MiG-29 to a Polish MiG-29," Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, a retired general who oversaw U.S. Air Force fighter jets as head of Air Combat Command, tells Defense One. But U.S-made F-16s would require training Ukrainian pilots don't have time for right now, he added. "It's not like driving a Chevy and then driving a Dodge."