Czechs have sent 89 tanks, hundreds of pieces of heavy machinery to Ukraine

Members of a Ukrainian tank crew prepare their tank for operation in Ukraine's Donetsk region, on Feb 22, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

WARSAW - The Czech Republic has supplied hundreds of pieces of heavy military equipment to Ukraine over the past year, including 89 tanks, and will continue supporting efforts to aid Kyiv, the country’s Prime Minister said on Wednesday.

Mr Petr Fiala was speaking after a meeting in Warsaw of countries on Nato’s eastern flank with United States President Joe Biden, who pledged to “defend every inch of Nato” to reassure allies nearly a year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Czech Republic has been one of Kyiv’s earliest and strongest backers.

Detailing for the first time the extent of Czech supplies, coming under cooperation of the state and the private sector, Mr Fiala said the country had shipped 226 fighting and armoured infantry vehicles, 38 howitzers, 33 multiple rocket launchers, six air defence systems and four helicopters.

“Thanks to Czech efforts, hundreds of heavy military vehicles have been delivered to Ukraine to date, and more than a million rockets, anti-tank grenades, large-calibre munitions, with a total value of around 40 billion crowns (S$2.4 billion),” Mr Fiala told a televised briefing from Warsaw.

He said a quarter of the aid was direct from the state and army stores, while the other aid was the result of licences issued to manufacturers.

The government said supplies worth tens of billions of crowns would flow to Ukraine in the coming months.

“We can do that not only due to our own resolve but also thanks to allies giving financial support, financial resources for modernising the army,” Mr Fiala said.

The US embassy in Prague last week said the United States would provide US$200 million (S$270 million) to the Czech Republic for military upgrades and replacement of equipment sent to Ukraine.

Leaders attend the Bucharest Nine summit at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb 22, 2023. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Czechs are also receiving Leopard 2A4 battle tanks from Germany as part of an international swop programme to allow the flow of weapons to Ukraine.

The Czech Republic has also agreed to repair Ukraine’s armoured vehicles as part of it help to the country.

The countries on Nato’s eastern flank meeting on Wednesday – known together as the Bucharest Nine and nations that during the Cold War were either aligned with Moscow or part of the former Soviet Union – reiterated support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia.

“We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to this end, as long as necessary,” the countries’ statement said. REUTERS

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