Czech and world leaders condemn latest Russian attack as NATO summit starts

The Czech prime minister also accused opposition leader Andrej Babiš of being pro-Russia after his party joined a far-right European Parliament group. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 09.07.2024 10:17:00 (updated on 09.07.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

As a NATO summit begins today in the U.S., attended by Czech President Petr Pavel, Czech and world leaders have responded to the atrocity of Russia’s bombing of Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital. The bombing resulted in the deaths of over 35 people and injured dozens. The attack coincides with the formation of the Patriots for Europe group in the European Parliament (EP), which Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has accused of being pro-Russian.

Czech president, PM round on Russia

"The attack on the most vulnerable is inexcusable," said Pavel Monday. "I expect a consensus at the NATO meeting that we all see Russia as the greatest threat, for which we must be thoroughly prepared,” he added. Pavel said that Russia’s attack is proof that President Vladimir Putin will “stop at nothing” during the war. 

Fiala similarly condemned the vicious attack. "Putin does not want peace, he wants to achieve his aggressive power goals at any cost – regardless of civilian casualties and the suffering of innocent people," he said. Fiala also said the bombing shows once again the "brutality of the war of aggression" that Russia is waging in Ukraine. 

Other senior Czech politicians, such as Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský and Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, spoke out against the attack. “Today's attack on Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine confirmed the barbarism of Putin and the hypocrisy of those who were able to publicly claim that there is no war in Ukraine,” said Rakušan.

U.S. President Joe Biden said the attack was a "cruel reminder of Russia's brutality" and promised "new measures" to strengthen Ukraine's air defenses. 

The Presidential Office stated that the NATO summit should convey three main messages. These messages are focused on strengthening the alliance and ensuring fair burden-sharing, providing long-term support for Ukraine, and enhancing cooperation with partners.

In addition to Pavel, Czechia will also be represented by Defence Minister Jana Černochová, Lipavský, and Chief of General Staff Karel Řehka.

Anger at ANO due to new EP group

Over in the EP,  a newly formed group – featuring Czechia’s largest opposition ANO party – called Patriots for Europe has evoked criticism from the Czech cabinet. Patriots for Europe consists of 30 Members of European Parliament from right-wing to far-right parties, such as the National Rally in France and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party.

"Let's call a spade a spade. The Patriots for Europe group serves Russia's interests. Whether knowingly or unknowingly. And in doing so, they are endangering the security and freedom of Europe," Fiala said.

“[ANO leader] Andrej Babiš looks up to Orban and has been in league with nationalist parties from other European countries," said Minister of Regional Development Ivan Bartoš.

Babiš strongly refuted the claims, calling Fiala a “pathological liar.” Babiš said that ANO – unlike politicians of the current ruling parties – has never colluded with the Kremlin.

ANO first deputy chairman Karel Havlíček said the degree of the prime minister's confusion had “reached a peak,” citing the fact that it was the previous ANO-led government that previously expelled Russian diplomats from Czechia.

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