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War in Ukraine | New Czech president pleads for ‘unlimited’ aid to Ukraine



(Prague) Czech President-elect Petr Pavel, a former NATO general, told AFP on Thursday there should be ‘no limits’ to Western military aid to ravaged Ukraine by war, urging the allies to show more courage.

Mr Pavel, who headed NATO’s military committee from 2015 to 2018, won the presidential election on Saturday and will be sworn in on March 9.

In an interview with AFP, Pavel, 61, said the West should provide Ukraine, which is fighting a Russian invasion, with all types of weapons except nuclear ones.

“When it comes to conventional weapons, I really see no reason to set limits,” he said.

“Ukraine cannot fight such a tough adversary without armour, drones, longer range artillery and missiles, and possibly supersonic aircraft,” he added.

Western allies, including the Czech Republic, have provided Ukraine with substantial military aid since the invasion began on February 24, 2022.

According to Mr. Pavel, it was necessary to show more courage, because “some countries have a somewhat reserved position” on the supply of modern weapons.

“If we want to adopt a unique position, which gives us the best chance of success, we should act in a united manner on these issues,” he said, referring to Poland’s proposal to send military planes F-16 combat in Ukraine, if this initiative was supported by all of NATO.

” All means “

“We should provide Ukraine with all the means to help it push the Russian army out of its territory on its own,” Pavel said.

The day after the election, the President-elect spoke by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to assure him of his country’s support.

He also said he plans to visit Ukraine with his Slovak counterpart Zuzana Caputova in the spring.

“It is important to show continued support for Ukraine, to highlight all the good things and the will to continue our initiative vis-à-vis Ukraine. I think that’s what Ukraine needs to hear,” Pavel said.

The Czech Republic, an EU and NATO member of 10.5 million people, has so far provided Ukraine with military aid worth $217 million, the report said on Thursday. Department of Defense.

Mr Pavel also backed Ukraine’s candidacy for EU and NATO membership once the war is over.

“If we perceive NATO and the EU as an area of ​​stability, cooperation, good relations, then we should allow another major European country to join us,” Pavel said.

“And it’s not just that she deserves to join, but we will also benefit, as will Russia when she is able to restore normal relations with the West again.” »

” Political will “

According to him, Ukraine’s membership in NATO is only “a question of political will” once the war is over.

“In terms of agreement on values, long-term strategic interests, technological interoperability between NATO and the Ukrainian military, I think Ukraine has already met the conditions. »

Furthermore, “when it comes to the dragging conflict and the final phase of this really hot war, Ukraine and its army will be the most experienced, best-prepared army in Europe,” Pavel added. .

According to him, the war must end with the withdrawal of Russia, peace talks, the reconstruction of Ukraine and the investigation of war crimes.

“We will have to bring Russia to this, not only by continuing to support Ukraine, but also by being very strict in the implementation of sanctions against Russia,” he said.

“It is the only way to make Russia understand that it has acted against the norm, and that in the civilized world of the 21e century, even a large country like Russia cannot ignore the standards of the world community. »

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