Jutarnji list: Croatia to provide Ukraine with 14 Mi-8 helicopters within 10 days

Croatia’s Defence Ministry has delisted 12 Mi-8MTV-1 and two Mi-8T helicopters from its military and is preparing to transfer those to Ukraine, says Croatian Jutarnji list newspaper, citing its sources.

The helicopters will be ready for shipping in 10 days. Jutarnji list believes that some of the aircraft in question are located at an ATC in Velika Gorica, while the rest are located at the Zagreb Airport and the Lučko Airfield in Ježdovec.

Jutarnji list’s sources report that seven helicopters will be partially disassembled and sent by land, while the other seven will fly to Poland, and then to Ukraine.

“The Croatian government has classified all information about military assistance to Ukraine, so it is impossible to officially confirm this information,” the newspaper says.

Journalists note that Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković confirmed the donation of 14 transport helicopters in November 2022, but without details. Two months ago, the country’s president Zoran Milanović “was very outraged that the helicopters would be sent free of charge” and said that the Defence Ministry had not explained to him how the aircraft would be replaced. Two days ago, Milanović was asked when the helicopters would arrive in Ukraine. He replied with: “I have no idea.”

In the last month, Croatia’s Defence Minister Mario Banožić has shown a lot of diplomatic activity in relation to Ukraine, the newspaper reports. He attended meetings of the Contact Group on the Defence of Ukraine twice, and spoke with his Polish counterpart in Zagreb. It is apparent that the helicopter transfer might have been discussed in detail at these meetings, Jutarnji list says.

After the transfer, Croatia will be left with 10 Mi-171-Sh transport helicopters and 4 Black Hawks.

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Mi-8 is a Soviet multipurpose helicopter. It is widely used in more than 50 countries for civilian and military purposes. The Mi-8MT is a modified version with more powerful engines and other changes that significantly improve the helicopter’s performance.

According to a report by the Ukrainian agency Defense Express published in 2021, the Ukrainian Air Force has 15 Mi-8 helicopters, while the Ukrainian army has 54 Mi-8 helicopters and 34 Mi-24 helicopters, not to mention training aircraft.

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