Next Czech president: Ukraine is 'ready' to join NATO

According to Pavel, Ukraine's recent military experience, combined with its need for support, mean that joining the military alliance is a logical option.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 01.02.2023 15:00:00 (updated on 04.02.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech President-elect Petr Pavel has said in an interview with the BBC that Ukraine “deserves” to join NATO “as soon as the war is over.” According to him, the country is "morally and practically ready."

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Pavel, who himself served as head of the NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018, during his presidential campaign made clear his intentions to unequivocally support Ukraine in the current Russia-Ukraine war.

Large support from Czechia, Europe, and NATO

"I am proud of my country being one of the first to provide Ukraine with significant military help," Pavel said in the interview. 

Czechia was the first Western country to send military tanks to Ukraine. It has sent over 35 of its own army tanks since last March. Additionally, in the past 12 months, Czechia has sent over CZK 47 billion worth of military material and over CZK 4 billion in financial aid, iDnes writes.

The EU has put up a united front in its mission to assist Ukraine. In December, the Council of the EU agreed on a legislative package that would guarantee EUR 18 million of aid (CZK 438 billion) to Ukraine next year.

NATO countries have made considerable donations to Ukraine since the outbreak of the war. The U.S. is by far the biggest provider, giving about USD 50 billion (over CZK 1 trillion) to Ukraine in 2022. At the end of December, President Joe Biden pledged a further USD 45 billion toward Ukraine in 2023.

Support from Europe-based NATO countries has also come in the form of military aid. Germany recently announced near-term plans to send 14 “Leopard” tanks to Ukraine, a move encouraged by the military bloc. In January this year, French President Emmanuel Macron committed to sending several AMX-10 RC tanks to Ukraine, on top of training Ukrainian soldiers on its own soil.


Ukraine’s economy contracted by over 30 percent in 2022 and has a planned 2023 budget deficit of USD 38 billion. Estimates show that Ukraine has lost about 2,700 pieces of equipment with 13,000 soldier fatalities. Sources: Newsweek, BBC

"Probably very few people could imagine that Western countries would be willing to provide Ukraine with modern main battle tanks or long-range artillery or anti-aircraft systems," Pavel said in yesterday’s interview.

Pavel also noted that, given recent fighting experience, the Ukrainian army is likely the most experienced European army at present.

"We have no alternative. If we leave Ukraine without assistance, they would most probably lose this war. And if they lose – we all lose." – Petr Pavel

He, along with many national and international media, condemned ex-presidential candidate Andrej Babiš’s statement last week that the latter would opt not to militarily assist Ukraine’s neighbors in the event of an attack. 

Senior figures agree on membership, while the public is uncertain

Prime Minister Petr Fiala shares the views of Czechia’s next president. In November, he mentioned that Ukraine needed “a clear route” to join NATO and even the EU. NATO’s head Jens Stoltenberg said in November that Ukraine will “one day” join the alliance and that “NATO’s door is open.” 

Public opinion, however, isn’t as favorable towards Ukraine joining the military bloc. A November survey by the STEM research agency found that just 33 percent of Czechs approve of Ukraine’s entry into NATO. Recent surveys suggest that Czechs’ willingness to help Ukraine is on a slightly declining trend.

Given its current cooperation with the West, it would in some people’s eyes make sense that Ukraine joins NATO after the end of the war – whenever it eventually comes. Whether its members can agree on Ukraine’s accession is another matter entirely.

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