Czech fundraiser to send rocket launcher to Ukraine raises millions in first 4 hours

The launcher built on a Tatra truck body will be named after the legendary plowman Přemysl because it can level a three hectare area. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 20.02.2023 15:21:00 (updated on 20.02.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Friday, Feb. 24 marks the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with Russian forces expected to make a renewed drive to occupy more territory. A Czech initiative is now crowdfunding money for a mobile rocket launcher and 365 rockets to help Ukraine prepare for the spring offensive.

The campaign, Gift for Putin (Dárek pro Putina) initiative, has already collected CZK 2 million in donations from 1,000 people since it began today. "You sent CZK 2 million in four hours from the start of the collection for Přemysl. No previous collection had such a massive start. Thank you very much. Every crown helps kick those murderous scoundrels in the backside," the organizers said on social media.

The RM-70 mobile rocket launcher will be christened Přemysl after the mythical plowman patriarch of the founding Přemyslid ruling dynasty. The weapon's salvo of 40 rockets can level an area of three hectares at once. Its maximum range is 20 kilometers. The system had been produced for the Czechoslovak army starting in 1972. It uses a Tatra truck body for its base.

Previously, the initiative crowd-sourced funds for Tomáš the tank, which has already been deployed on the battlefield. The group has also raised funds to buy missile defense systems and various types of drones. They have also funded not only training for soldiers but also sign-language lessons for hearing-impaired Ukrainians in Czechia.

Czech support for Ukraine high

A year after the beginning of the Russian invasion, public opinion in Czechia indicates that a significant number of Czechs support Ukraine.

According to a newly released STEM poll, most Czechs side with the West one year after the start of the conflict. Just one-third are uncertain, and the number of pro-Russian Czechs has not increased significantly.

The poll findings show that while 28 percent of Czech citizens hold a pro-Western stance and support sending NATO soldiers to the Ukrainian-Russian border, 24 percent don't support sending troops despite their pro-Western stance. Thirty-four percent of Czechs hold a neutral position; 9 percent believe in disinformation and 5 percent are strongly pro-Russian.

President elect calls for further support to Ukraine

President-elect Petr Pavel also indicated strong support for a unified West and further support for Ukraine at the Munich security conference on Feb. 18. Pavel called on the West to activate its defense industry given the shrinking reserves of arms stores and to enhance its own security.

"The unity of the West in support of Ukraine is one of the key factors of Ukraine's success in the conflict," Pavel said.

He said that investments in defense were necessary and questioned whether the 2 percent of GDP, which is the level that NATO had previously set, would be sufficient in the future.

Czechia among main suppliers of military aid to Ukraine

The Czech Republic is among the biggest suppliers of military equipment to Ukraine, both in absolute figures and in relation to the size of the country, Defense Minister Jana Černochová said, adding: "The speed and extent of the help in the form of military materiel are what is now saving the lives of Ukrainian soldiers who are also fighting for us."

The Czech government so far has donated unused military materiel worth about CZK 4.8 billion from the Czech army reserves to Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said. Based on available information the funds went toward buying tanks, helicopters, firearms, and ammunition.

However, Czech arms makers, private firms, and grassroots campaigns have also contributed a significant amount to Ukraine for arms or donated equipment.

To date, the Gifts for Putin has raised a total of CZK 395,070,419, thanks to 10,2003 contributions over a time period of 362 days. The group's donations go directly to the Ukrainian Embassy's account and it has started selling merchandise such as t-shirts to offset costs. The campaign was created by Czech business magnate Dalibor Dědek.

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