Czechia will contribute troops to NATO expansion in Slovakia

As negotiations continue on the second day of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Prague Castle confirmed Czechia's support for expansion efforts.


Written by ČTK Published on 12.07.2023 10:14:00 (updated on 12.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

At the Alliance summit in Vilnius Tuesday, President Pavel announced that the Czech Republic will play a significant role in strengthening NATO's international battlegroup in Slovakia.

According to President Pavel, the Czech Republic will contribute one mixed battalion in Slovakia, along with a substantial number of staff and support units. The move is part of NATO's strategy to enhance its formations on the eastern flank, which is crucial for collective defense.

The plans for NATO expansion, currently being discussed at the summit, aim to increase the troop count to 5,000 in each of the eight battlegroups stationed on the alliance's eastern flank. Four of these battlegroups were established in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.

President Pavel also mentioned that the Czech Republic will maintain its presence in Lithuania and Latvia, where it is involved in NATO battlegroups. The multinational group stationed in the town of Lešť in Central Slovakia and commanded by a Czech battalion had 1,000 soldiers at the end of last year.

Speaking about the future plans, President Pavel said that the Czech presence in Slovakia "will be elevated to the brigade level. The Czech Republic will be a significant contributor." The Czech army aims to have one battalion directly stationed in Slovakia, while another will be deployed on Czech territory.

Regarding the command structure, President Pavel mentioned the possibility of Czechia sharing command of the mission with Spain. However, he did not provide specific details about the duration of the expansion or the exact extent of the Czech presence in Slovakia.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also confirmed today that Spain would be sending troops to reinforce the multinational group in Slovakia, which currently includes soldiers from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Slovenia.

Markéta Řeháková, the spokesperson for President Pavel, told ČTK that the size of the brigade in Lešť has not yet been determined. She also stated that there is no deadline for reinforcement, but preparations should be completed by mid-2024. Currently, Czechia has approximately 450 soldiers in the group.

Řeháková further explained that the planned mixed battalion will consist of various forces, ranging from light to heavy, including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and light armored vehicles.

The NATO summit continues today and, in addition to strengthening the alliance's eastern flank, global leaders will discuss continued support for Ukraine, defense spending, and the potential membership of countries like Sweden and Ukraine. Czech representatives aim to clarify the conditions for Ukraine's NATO membership.

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