Czechia bolsters Ukraine aid amid Putin's bid to undermine Western support

Chief of Staff Karel Řehka said Vladimir Putin's downplaying of the Russian invasion is an effort to erode support in the West.


Written by ČTK Published on 20.02.2024 11:37:00 (updated on 20.02.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

The war’s outcome in Ukraine will foreshadow the world we will live in, Czech Chief of Staff Karel Řehka said at the opening of Tuesday’s army commanders’ meeting. He added that support for Ukraine will not cease – just a few days ago, Czechia supplied Kyiv with more materiel from its military stocks.

Řehka described building combat capability as the army's top priority. He stressed that NATO membership does not remove the responsibility of individual countries to develop their strong militaries. Some countries have forgotten this in the past, he said.

According to Řehka, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to convince the West that the war in Ukraine does not concern it, which could lead to weakening Western support.

"We will do the opposite, and we will do it with all our strength," Řehka said. It is unclear whether Russia will attack the Czech Republic and its allies, he added. "We must, therefore, continue working hard to strengthen our capabilities, defenses, and deterrence, collectively and individually," he said.

Řehka said the combat capability of the army is his priority. In this context, he emphasized that the military has a predictable budget and can plan accordingly.

"The next 10-year period will represent a major technological transformation of the army," he said.

Řehka noted that Russia has so far fallen far short of its goals in Ukraine and made negligible gains. However, it continues sending additional human and material resources to the fighting. He praised the determination of Ukrainian forces and Western support for the embattled country.

"How the war turns out will foreshadow the kind of world we will live in," he said. Russia has switched to war production, violating international agreements and developing cooperation with autocratic regimes, according to Řehka.

He stressed that the threats must be discussed openly and the risks explained patiently.

"Problems are meant to be solved, not silenced," Řehka said. Czech support for Ukraine will not stop, he added, stating that last year, the Czech Republic trained some 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers in Poland and on its premises and is still supplying material needed to defend Ukraine.

On Monday, Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová and Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov held a video conference discussing ammunition deliveries to Ukraine, training Ukrainian soldiers in the Czech Republic, and the evolving battlefield situation. At the Munich Security Conference last weekend, Czech President Petr Pavel pledged ongoing support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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