Numerous news outlets in Europe are reporting the U.S. has bought 81 clapped-out Soviet-era fighters and ground attack aircraft from Kazakhstan to send to Ukraine, but Kazakhstan is denying the report. Experts on the politics of the region are now saying the report, which first appeared in the Kyiv Post, is likely false because of the close ties between Kazakhstan and Russia. The U.S. and Ukraine have declined comment.

The Post said the U.S., working through an offshore agent, paid a bargain basement price of less than $20,000 each for the aircraft, which include MiG-31s, MiG-29s, MiG-27s and Su-24s, all of which Ukraine also operates. Kazakhstan announced it was selling off the aircraft last fall because it was buying modern replacements and said at the time they weren’t worth making airworthy. Some of the reports suggest at least some of the aircraft can be flown while others say they’ll be scavenged for parts and used as decoys.

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