Czech Republic Sends Military Equipment to Ukraine

The Czech Republic officials confirmed the country has been sending military equipment to Ukraine in a below-the-radar bid to bolster the eastern European nation’s capacity to resist Russia’s invasion. 

“We believe that this is the only thing that can stop the Russian forces from perpetrating more atrocities,” said one senior Czech defense official, adding that the tank deliveries so far had been gifts rather than sales.

Czech officials said the country had provided Soviet-designed T-72 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and howitzers to Ukraine for several weeks.

The deliveries were the first known time a foreign country has supplied tanks to Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has repeatedly appealed for western military support against the Russian onslaught. 

Many Nato member countries have provided Ukraine with defensive equipment but not offensive weapons for fear of escalation. 

“There’s no Nato pressure [to supply weapons] . . . This is really an example of a sovereign decision by a sovereign state,” Julianne Smith, the US representative to Nato, said on Tuesday when asked about the Czech move.

According to a London-based think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Czech military has 30 T-72M4CZ tanks, upgraded versions of the Russian workhorse T-72, and 89 T-72 tanks in storage at the start of the year. 

“The Czechs have created a small industry of refitting and modernizing Soviet-era weapons,” IISS military analyst Henry Boyd said. 

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