Minister Jana Černochová: Our assistance to Ukraine has been enormous and continues

 24. 02. 2023      category: Events
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At the balance sheet press conference in the presence of Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Karel Řehka, Minister of Defence Jana Černochová evaluated the Czech Republic's assistance to Ukraine over the past year. She appreciated not only the approach of the Czech Army, but also the Czech arms industry and voluntary donors. The military conflict was unleashed by Russia on 24 February 2022.

bilance_ukrajinaPicture: At a balance of forces press conference in the presence of Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. | Jan Zilvar / CZ DEFENCE

Already on Wednesday, after a Government meeting, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said that the Czech Republic had helped Ukraine by deciding on the supply of military equipment from the army's warehouses, by releasing funds for the purchase of necessary material and equipment and by organising military training. The total value of the assistance reaches a market price of about ten billion crowns. In addition, citizens themselves have contributed to the military aid to Ukraine, raising CZK 1.55 billion through a crowdfunding account. The money raised was subsequently used, for example, to purchase RM-70 Vampire rocket launchers, a modernised T-72M1 "Tomas" tank and MR-2 "Viktor" anti-aircraft systems against low-flying targets.

During the conference, Minister Černochová specified what military material the Czech Republic provided to Ukraine in 2022. These were: 38 tanks, 55 IFVs, 13 self-propelled gun-howitzers, 4 pieces of aviation equipment, 5 chemical reconnaissance vehicles, 47 cars, 27 518 pieces of artillery shells, 12 rocket launchers, 4 900 pieces of rocket launchers, 8 022 armoured vehicles, 128 mortars, 17 400 mortars for mortars, 291 pieces of anti-aircraft guns, 30 025 pieces of short small arms, 11 233 pieces of long small arms and 4 263 000 rounds for small arms. It also included military medical, chemical and biological protection material, military equipment, fuel, spare parts and other equipment. "I think it is clear to everyone after reading this list that the assistance has been enormous and continues," said the minister, who added that the Ministry of Defence had provided shelter in the ministry's facilities to more than 1 000 refugees from Ukraine. "Specifically, there were 1 038 people, mainly women, children and there were also old men among them," the Minister specified.

tankyPicture: Czech Republic has been helping Ukraine in many ways since the beginning of the conflict | Open Source Intelligence Monitor

An important part of the assistance to Ukraine was also the supply of weapons, which were delivered by Czech armourers in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence. "The estimated value of the export licences granted for Czech military equipment reached CZK 68 billion and the exports made so far are about CZK 30 billion. Commercial deliveries account for the largest part of the real deliveries of military equipment to Ukraine. This form of cooperation is of course also economically beneficial for the Czech Republic. It clearly shows that the Czech Government and the defence industry are pulling together in helping Ukraine," said the Minister.

Černochová also said that the government and subsequently both chambers of the Czech Parliament would discuss a mandate for the Military Police to be involved in the investigation of war crimes in Ukraine. "The Czech Republic has negotiated with the Dutch the possibility of cooperation within the framework of involvement in the detection and documentation of war crimes in Ukraine. If the agreement is concluded and parliament approves it, it would be up to ten members of the Military Police that we would send to monitor the situation and investigate," the minister presented the plan. According to her statement, this would be virtually the same situation as the investigations in the former Yugoslavia in the past. The Minister said the Czech Republic had left a strong trail and had done a good job there.

The Chief of General Staff, Maj. Gen. Karel Řehka said that the Czech Republic was helping Ukraine in many ways, both morally and diplomatically, from refugees to military aid. He also refuted possible speculations about the amount of weapons or ammunition released. "Most of the time these items were either from some surplus stocks or were removed from the war and army stockpile structures. There was always a military and my personal recommendation for each individual item. Each item was always given after very careful and considered deliberation," the general elaborated on the method of determining the amount of military assistance to the Army last year. General Řehka also said that in his entire tenure as Chief of the General Staff, he has not experienced any political pressure for the Army to give anything that is against his recommendation. "And I think that's a good thing to sound. I stand behind every single thing we sent to Ukraine and we are able to explain them with logical arguments," Řehka stressed.

As part of its assistance to Ukraine, the Czech Republic also participates in the training of the Ukrainian army, where this training is coordinated jointly with the Ukrainian side. "The training is always based on current requirements and is of course also covered by the political mandate for the European Union Military Assistance Mission (EUMAM)," General Řehka said. Specifically, he said, it involved more than 600 members of the mechanised battalion and also about 50 specialists in three areas: medics, chemical warfare specialists and engineer specialists. "I must say that the training is quite unique. There are not many countries that are able to train to the battalion level. We are one of them, which is very much appreciated by our Ukrainian counterparts and it has been voiced in military and international forums by Ukrainians," Řehka highlighted. According to him, this training also has a positive impact on the Czech Army. "We are using every opportunity to gain their experience in contemporary warfare. The war in Ukraine is the only long-term conflict of high intensity and large scale against Russia as our potential adversary, which we must closely observe and study. And we do this in different directions and on different platforms," the Chief of General Staff stressed. "We are gaining very valuable experience, which of course we are applying to our doctrines, to our training, and to our modernization," Maj. Gen. Karel Řehka.

During the subsequent questioning of journalists, Mr. Řehka said that as far as support for Ukraine from the Czech Republic, Poland and later other European states is concerned, it should be perceived that the Ukrainians have won the support of the West. They did not get it automatically. If the state had collapsed in the first days, there would have been no one to support. In the first place, you have to be determined to defend yourself and make a stand. Furthermore, Řehka stressed the importance of strategic communication in the sense that Ukrainians were not only able to resist and defend themselves, but they were also able to communicate this in such a way that a huge wave of solidarity arose in Western society, which forced politicians to react.

 Author: Jan Zilvar

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