Prague has already sent Kiev everything it can from its weapons stockpiles, Czech President Petr Pavel says
The Czech Republic has already done everything it can to help Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, President Petr Pavel has said. The nation’s capacity to produce more ammunition is limited due to workforce shortages, he added.
“We have not only delivered what we could from our own stocks, but also bought material abroad,” Pavel said in an interview with Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.
The Czech Republic is still capable of producing some air defenses and ammunition that Ukraine needs, but it’s “limited by the shortage of workforce,” he said.
“We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. Workers are hard to come by. But there are opportunities, for example, through [bringing in] workers from Ukraine,” explained Pavel, who was inaugurated as president on March 9.
He suggested that this year would be “decisive” for the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine.
The Czech president, who has a background in intelligence and served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee between 2015 and 2018, warned that Western support for Kiev “will diminish over time” due to so-called “war fatigue.”
There will be a presidential election in the US in 2024, which will see the focus of American voters switch from foreign to domestic affairs, he said.
“It is virtually impossible for the Europeans alone to maintain the current level of support for Ukraine. If US support weakens, so does the support of a number of European states,” the 61-year-old suggested.
Ukraine has to take this into account when it plans its next moves on the battlefield, because “next year, it’ll probably be unable to start any large and elaborate operation,” Pavel said.
According to the Czech Defense Ministry, the country has provided Kiev with €2.3 billion ($2.5 billion) worth of arms during the conflict. Prague does not disclose the types of weapons supplied due to what it calls security and tactical concerns.
Russia has on numerous occasions criticized deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine from the West, arguing that they only serve to escalate and prolong fighting without changing the ultimate outcome. According to Moscow, arms shipments, intelligence sharing and training provided to Kiev’s troops have already made Western nations de facto parties to the conflict.