Matt Atlas

Slovakia’s airspace to be protected by Czech Republic from September

Czech Republic, Petr Fiala

Bratislava is in talks to send its MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine.

The Czech Air Force will patrol the Baltic airspace until the end of September, Defense Minister Ernochová said this week, extending the deployment by two months.

According to Ms. Ernochová, the decision was taken in response to a formal request from Lithuania and does not require governmental or parliamentary approval.

The mission was originally scheduled to conclude at the end of July.

Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Jiří Táborský told the Czech News Agency (CTK) that Denmark will take over the protection of the Baltic airspace from October.

Since early April, five Czech fighter jets and approximately 100 military personnel have been patrolling the Baltic airspace as part of a NATO mission, working alongside the French and Spanish air forces.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala 

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February, NATO states on the Alliance’s eastern border have dramatically increased their military cooperation.

This is the fourth mission of the Czech Air Force in the Baltics, according to Radio Prague.

Earlier this month, the Czech Republic confirmed that it could guard the airspace of neighboring Slovakia to allow Bratislava to send its own fleet of fighter jets to Ukraine.

Since Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia do not have sufficient aircraft and fighter jets to guard their own airspace, NATO established a so-called NATO Air Policing capability at the Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania in 2004, followed by a second presence at the Ämari Air Base, in Estonia, in 2014 – allowing Alliance members to patrol and guard the Baltic skies for them.

“We will help Slovakia until it has new planes at its disposal,” Fiala said during a Czech television debate with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger. “The government will certainly approve it.”

Slovakia previously asked NATO allies for help to patrol its skies after it decided to ground its fleet of Soviet-designed MiG-29 aircraft and started talks to send them to Ukraine. Bratislava is expecting a delayed delivery of American F-16 aircraft in 2024.

Fiala said it was essential Ukraine had the weapons needed to fight for both its independence and for the West’s security and freedom. “They are fighting for us,” he added.

As the Russian war in Ukraine enters its fifth month, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy urged NATO allies to ramp up their military aid.