North Macedonia Maintains Silence Over Su-25 Donation to Ukraine 05 авг 2022 | 13:23 views (3375) commentaries(0)

Defence Ministry neither confirms nor denies media reports that the country has donated its four Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack jets to Ukraine.

After local media on Thursday cited unnamed sources saying that North Macedonia has donated four Soviet-era jets to Ukraine, North Macedonia’s Defence Ministry neither confirmed nor denied this, but said that it will reveal all information on donations at a later stage.

Not saying when would that be, the ministry press release said: “The exact details about all the decisions [on donations], their content and explanations, will be declassified and published transparently”.

It added: “Decisions reached so far are not harming the combat readiness of our army,”

On Thursday, news portal MKD.MK cited unnamed sources saying that the jets had been sent to Ukraine “over the past few days”, after many other local media picked up the unconfirmed information.

If correct, this would be North Macedonia’s second confirmed donation of heavy weapons to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

Last week, the Defence Ministry confirmed it had sent 30 Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukraine, after photo and video footage of them being transported out of the country was leaked on social media. On Wednesday, Russian spokesperson Maria Zakharova called the donation “a big mistake”.

North Macedonia bought the four Su-25 jets from Ukraine in 2001, to deal with the short-lived ethnic Albanian insurgency. As with the purchased tanks, these jets saw little use after the conflict ended later that year.

The four North Macedonia jets were practically retired in 2004, and have since stayed put in the military base at Skopje airport with the idea of eventually selling or discarding them. North Macedonia’s army plans do not envisage new jets, and focus instead on maintaining and modernising a helicopter force.

The Su-25, designated by NATO as Frogfoot, is regarded as a slightly outdated but still capable craft. Often compared to the US-made A-10 Thunderbolt, the Su-25 is built specifically to bust enemy tanks and infantry close to the frontline.

Unlike air superiority fighter jets that favour speed and electronics in combating enemy jets, the Su-25 can fly slower and lower than them, offering better-armoured protection for the pilot and the engines.

First making its mark during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the jet gained iconic status as one of the staples of the Cold War arms race. It is used extensively to this day by both invading Russian forces and Ukrainian defenders on the Ukrainian battlefield.

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