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North Macedonia Sent Jets to Ukraine, Footage Suggests

Satellite footage on Google Earth from August suggest North Macedonia’s four Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack jets are no longer in Skopje.

North Macedonia’s four Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack jets may already be in Ukraine, footage uploaded on Google Earth suggests. North Macedonia’s authorities previously declined to confirm or deny media reports that they had been sent to Ukraine.

The new image, taken from the military section of the airport in the capital, Skopje, uploaded on Google earth in August, shows the four jets missing from the spot where they were kept for ten years. The jets had been decommissioned from active service but kept in a conserved state for possible future use.

A satellite image taken earlier this year, until few days showed the jets in their usual place, and Google Earth’s historic imagery of the same spot suggests they had been sitting there at least since 2012.

BIRN on Monday asked North Macedonia’s Defence Ministry sources about the jets’ whereabouts and whether they had been moved to another location or donated to Ukraine.

The sources only referred to the ministry’s previous statement from early August, when it neither confirmed nor denied reports that the planes had been sent to Ukraine.

The ministry said all data on military hardware sent to Ukraine would be disclosed “in a transparent manner” in due time, when it is deemed safe to do so.

Since early August, no one has been able to visually confirm whether these jets have been moved, as the area at the airport where these and other aircraft are kept conserved is secluded from prying eyes with embankments.

North Macedonia bought the four Soviet-made Su-25 jets from Ukraine in 2001, to help deal with the country’s short-lived ethnic Albanian insurgency. They saw little use after the conflict ended later that year.

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

Although far from cutting-edge, the jets are regarded as still effective weapons.

Often compared to the US-made A-10 Thunderbolt, the Su-25 is built to bust enemy tanks and infantry close to the frontline and sustain heavy anti-aircraft damage in the process, heightening the survival chances of the crew.

The jets are currently in use on the frontline in Ukraine by both Ukrainian defenders and Russian aggressors.

North Macedonia, which joined NATO in 2020, in late July 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. It has remained tight-lipped about other possible shipments.

source: balkaninsight