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Bad report about European Union countries providing airplanes for Ukraine stokes confusion

Monique Curet
By Monique Curet March 4, 2022

If Your Time is short

Three European Union countries said they will not provide airplanes to Ukraine, despite an early report by an EU official to the contrary. 

A European Union official holding a Feb. 27 press conference mistakenly told reporters that some EU countries would be providing planes to Ukraine.

The report was quickly refuted — and the official himself walked back his statement soon after. But social media was slower to correct the record and the bad report gathered traction on Facebook.

A March 1 post on Facebook carried a headline that said, "Bulgaria, Poland, and Slovakia are said to be delivering 70+ airplanes for the Ukrainian military," linking to a March 1 story from RT News, an American cable network funded by the government of Russia. The news outlet has since ceased U.S. production and laid off most of its staff, according to a March 3 story by CNN.

Another March 1 Facebook post credited the press service of the Ukrainian Navy with the news.

The claim originated with comments from the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, "who went off-script during a press conference on Sunday (Feb. 27) to reference the possibility," Politico EU reported. Borrell publicly walked back the comments the next day.

The Ukrainian parliament also added to the confusion by announcing that planes from Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia would be delivered to Ukraine, according to Politico.

In the days following the press conference, each of the countries said they would not be providing planes.

"No commitments have been made for Bulgarian fighters. We currently have few flying planes and they cannot be delivered to another country," Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Feb. 28, according to Euractiv, a European media network.

Similarly, President of Poland Andrzej Duda said, "We are not sending any jets to Ukraine because that would open a military interference in the Ukrainian conflict." Duda was speaking at a NATO press conference on March 1.

Slovakia also said it will not send fighter jets, and that its jets might be put out of operation earlier than expected because of the country’s reliance on Russian technicians to keep them airborne.

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Our Sources

CNN, "RT America ceases productions and lays off most of its staff," March 3, 2022

Euractiv, "Bulgaria will not send fighters, troops to Ukraine," March 1, 2022

Facebook post, March 1, 2022

North Atlantic Treaty Organization, "Press conference," March 1, 2022

PolitiFact, "Russia Today," accessed March 3, 2022

Politico, "EU countries won’t send Ukraine fighter jets after all," March 1, 2022

Politico EU, "EU countries won’t send Ukraine fighter jets after all," March 1, 2022

RT, "Ukraine says NATO countries will supply warplanes," March 1, 2022

The Slovak Spectator, "Slovakia won't give its fighter jets to Ukraine, but may ground them earlier than planned," March 1, 2022

The Slovak Spectator, "Slovakia's air defence relies on Russian technicians," Feb. 25, 2022

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Bad report about European Union countries providing airplanes for Ukraine stokes confusion