Czech Republic donates artillery ammunition worth CZK 36.6 million to Ukraine
Since October 2021, there has been a significant accumulation of Russian armed forces near the border with Ukraine. The structure of these forces corresponds to the planning of a real kinetic attack against Ukraine. The Russian Federation refuses to explain the reasons for these military activities in any way and is extremely opaque about their actual scope and objective. Moreover, these military activities are accompanied by a strong media and diplomatic offensive, portraying Russia as a threatened country, in particular, by bringing NATO military infrastructure closer to Russia's borders and strengthening it. At the same time, Russia is talking about Ukraine's alleged efforts to reintegrate the Donbas by force, which would endanger the Russian-speaking population there. In addition, Russia has stepped up activities inside Ukraine, such as recruiting collaborators for sabotage, which can also be seen as preparation to provoke or create a pretext for a Russian attack on Ukraine.
Picture: Czech Republic donates 152 mm calibre artillery ammunition to Ukraine, used for example by 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled gun howitzers (pictured) and 2S3 Akacija, 2S5 Hyacint S, 2A65, 2A36 and D-20 towed howitzers (illustration photo) | Shutterstock
The build-up of Russian armed forces near the border with Ukraine and the extraordinary intensity of training activities that these forces are undergoing, together with the escalation of Russian rhetoric towards Ukraine and the West and the intensification of hybrid activities, give serious cause for concern about possible Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The Russian Federation has declared that it perceives NATO's expansion into Ukraine as a threat to itself and is demanding legally binding security guarantees. Moscow identifies as key NATO's commitment to no further enlargement and, in particular, that Ukraine will never become a member. It is also demanding the withdrawal of allied forces and an end to allied military activities on the territory of the new allied countries "near Russia's borders" and a return to the status quo of 1997, before NATO's first enlargement to include the former Eastern bloc countries.
Russia's proposals are fundamentally unacceptable to NATO member states. A series of high-level meetings have taken place in relation to these ultimatum-like demands. Their common denominator has been calls for de-escalation and warnings of serious consequences of possible Russian aggression by Western statesmen and Russian denial of any aggressive intentions of its own and accusations of Ukraine and the West of militarisation along Russia's borders threatening the national security of the Russian Federation.
It is clearly in the security interests of the Czech Republic, Europe and NATO as a whole to prevent the risk of conflict with Russia, not least in view of its potentially utterly devastating nuclear dimension. NATO has taken measures to strengthen its situational awareness, is preparing to further strengthen its collective defence capability on its eastern flank and expresses its full support for Ukraine, which has been a victim of Russian aggression since 2014. At the same time, NATO maintains its readiness to engage in dialogue with Russia in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council. Both the US and NATO have prepared written positions and proposals which they will convey to Russia in accordance with its request.
The Czech Republic supports the efforts to engage in dialogue with the Russian Federation, but at the same time supports the intensive strengthening of the defence of NATO's eastern flank and it is essential that it actively participates in this process. One of the ways to strengthen the resilience of NATO's eastern flank is to support Ukraine's defence capabilities, which is also one of NATO's current priorities.
On 17 January 2022, Ukraine approached the Czech Republic with a request to provide military equipment and ammunition needed to meet the operational requirements of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Ministry of Defence proposed to comply with this request and to strengthen Ukraine's defence capabilities by donating military equipment on the basis of the Government's approval. In the same way, the Czech Republic helped foreign partners in 2014-2016, when military equipment was donated in the framework of the fight against the so-called Islamic State. Specifically, these included the donation of ammunition to the Government of the Republic of Iraq through the Kurdistan Regional Government (Government Resolution No 696 of 27 August 2014), the donation of ammunition and submachine guns to the Government of the USA in support of the Iraqi armed and security forces (Government Resolutions No 581 of 22 July 2015 and No 67 of 25 January 2016) and the donation of ammunition to the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Government Resolution No 68 of 25 January 2016).
The Ministry of Defence has proposed to donate to Ukraine three-blast long-range 152 mm calibre NB 152-EOFD-SHKH 77 cartridges, which are usable guns in the armament of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Army of the Czech Republic currently has sufficient numbers of the above ammunition to meet the needs of both peacekeeping and mobilisation formations.
In connection with the fact that the project of rearmament of the Armed Forces with new NATO guns of 155 mm calibre, with which the ammunition in question is not compatible, the Ministry of Defence proposed to offer Ukraine a gratuitous transfer of 4006 pcs of the above-mentioned ammunition, including 4006 pcs of chests (each with one bullet, consisting of a projectile and a cartridge) and 404 pcs of wooden artillery pallets. The total book value of the donation is CZK 36 642 329,08. The reduction of the Czech Army's stocks by this military material will not represent an increase in the excessive risk of not securing peacekeeping and mobilisation units of the Czech Army.
On Wednesday, 26 January 2022, the Government of the Czech Republic approved this material, submitted by the Minister of Defence Jana Černochová. The gratuitous transfer of military equipment will be carried out on the basis of a donation agreement concluded between the Czech Republic (the Ministry of Defence) and Ukraine (the Ministry of Defence or another Ukrainian state body authorised under Ukrainian law to accept the donation).
The Ukrainian Land Forces have several howitzers using 152 mm calibre ammunition. These include the Russian 2S19 Msta-S and 2S3 Akacija self-propelled gun howitzers, 2S5 Hyacint S, 2A65, 2A36 and D-20 towed howitzers.