Russian mechanics are probably linked to the sabotage of Slovak MiG-29 fighter jets in a bid to stop the country delivering aircraft to Ukraine, said Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď.
“They could fly, but that doesn’t mean they were also capable of combat. The Ukrainians came to Slovakia a week before their departure, brought spare parts and inspected the planes,” Naď explained after the opposition led by the Smer-SD party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico strongly criticised the government for giving up valuable aircraft.
Citing Minister EURACTIV reported that the faults may have been intentionally caused by Russian technicians, which were present at Sliač air base in Slovakia until last year.
“Even the police were investigating it, based on our suspicions. There were parts in the engines of the aircraft that Slovak technicians accessed, and then there were parts that Russian technicians only accessed. The defects appeared only in those parts accessed by Russians,” Naď said.
While the investigation did not prove intention, the Defence Ministry “felt a loss of confidence in the Russian technicians at Sliač because mistakes kept appearing in places only they could get to,” the minister added.
Lieutenant General Ľubomír Svoboda, the former highest-ranking pilot, also suggested that Russians intentionally damaged the jets.
“We took over an engine from them that was supposed to last 350 hours. And in the end, it only flew 70 hours. What can we make of that? Maybe there was poor workmanship, let’s call it that. I don’t know,” he said in an interview for Denník N.