Views of the members of the Defence Committee on the potential deployment of our troops to Ukraine
The 4th meeting of the Defense Committee, scheduled for Wednesday, February 2, did not take place due to the unexpected course of the 8th session of the Chamber of Deputies on the pandemic bill. Thus, the Committee was unable to actively respond to developments in the Ministry of Defence regarding the upcoming Czech Presidency of the European Union in the second half of this year, or the approval of the participation of the Czech Armed Forces in military exercises outside the Czech Republic and the participation of the armed forces of other states in military exercises on the territory of the Czech Republic in 2022. Yesterday's scheduled meeting was also supposed to include information on developments in the situation in Ukraine. This private part of the meeting was to be conducted in the presence of Defence Minister Jana Černochová, Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces Army General Aleš Opata and Director of Military Intelligence General Jan Beroun.
The issue of assistance to the Ukrainian Government and the possible deployment of Czech Army soldiers are topics that are currently being consulted and coordinated by Government officials at both civilian and military levels. The key issue remains the direct participation of the Czech Armed Forces in Ukraine, which is subject to the approval of the Czech Parliament under Article 43 of the Constitution of the Czech Republic.
Picture: The issue of aid to the Ukrainian Government and the possible deployment of Czech Army troops are topics that are currently being consulted and coordinated by Government officials at both civilian and military levels. (illustration photo) | Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic
In this context, we asked all members of the Defence Committee whether they would agree to sending our troops to Ukraine. Below are the answers of those who responded:
Lubomír Metnar (ANO), Chairman of the Committee
The situation in Ukraine is serious. Diplomatic negotiations aimed at de-escalating tensions are currently underway. I am in favour of using all possible diplomatic steps to prevent further escalation of the crisis and a possible armed conflict, which none of us wants. At the present time, I consider the deployment of troops to be premature.
Josef Flek (STAN), Vice-Chairman of the Committee
Only as a last resort. As long as it is even slightly likely, we should act. But we cannot be blackmailed. Every country has the right to its foreign policy orientation. The V4 Defence Committee meeting in Debrecen, where I represented the Czech Republic, took a similar view. By its very nature, the EU cannot be as operational as, for example, the United States. Russia senses this weakness - on an institutional level - and therefore deals with us from a position of strength. We will have to respond in the same way, otherwise it will never respect us.
If Ukraine is attacked, the response to aggression will be formulated at NATO level. The Government and Parliament must then discuss the proposal to send troops and possibly give it the green light. Hopefully, this will not have to happen. However, we cannot rule out such an alternative. I appreciate the fact that we have provided artillery ammunition to Ukraine and have also committed to help in the area of wartime health care: this is an agreement on medical assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces.
The internal political developments in Ukraine are not black and white. Since the fall of President Yanukovych in 2014, the country has undergone a series of reforms. Some have been successful, some less so. I also resent their oligarch wars. But they still have much freer elections than Russia. So there is a higher likelihood of a change in political representation, which is one of the basic parameters of a healthy democracy. For that reason alone, Ukraine deserves our help. If it faces military aggression, we cannot respond to tanks and missiles with letters and statements.
Jan Hofmann (ODS), Vice-Chairman of the Committee
I would not send our troops to Ukraine at the moment. There is no reason to do so yet. Moreover, it could have a negative effect on Russia and give it a reason to take action. At the moment, no one has even asked for our troops, as far as I know. We have supported Ukraine materially and we could continue to support it in this way.
Pavel Ruzicka (ANO), Vice-Chairman of the Committee
It is a matter of negotiation. If NATO asks for help, I have no problem. If it is again a solo initiative of the Defence Minister, I have a problem with that.
Josef Bělica (ANO), member of the Committee
The situation in Ukraine is very complex, there is no doubt about that. I am convinced that it is premature to talk about sending troops. I firmly believe that tensions will be defused through diplomacy.
Stanislav Blaha (ODS), Member of the Committee
As far as I have up-to-date information, no one has yet asked the Czech Republic to send troops or to station troops on our territory. Should this situation arise, the proposal will, of course, be discussed (in accordance with the Constitution) by the Government and both chambers of Parliament, including both committees.
Miloslav Janulík (ANO), member of the committee
So far there is no reason for this to happen at all, and I believe that it never will... We do have experience with foreign troops on our territory, don't we???
Karel Krejza (ODS), member of the committee
I still hope that it will not be necessary and a diplomatic solution will be found. Unfortunately, Russia hears only arguments of force, but we know this and we can arrange accordingly. If a deployment were to take place, it would certainly not be as a solo action, but under NATO auspices.
Radovan Vích (SPD), Member of the Committee
I do not agree either with the Czech Government's donation of 4 000 pieces of artillery ammunition to Ukraine in the amount of CZK 37 million, which was approved last week by the Government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), or with the possible deployment of our soldiers. This so-called donation is neither a symbol of solidarity nor is it in the interests of the citizens of the Czech Republic, but it is a clear support for a possible escalation of the military conflict. Armaments and ammunition are sent to Ukraine by NATO countries that are geographically furthest from Ukraine (USA, Canada, UK) and this Government, unlike most European countries, has joined them.
The Czech Republic is only one of the few countries that sends armaments to Ukraine, other European states are very reticent in this matter and send at most military helmets or a field hospital to Ukraine for protection or to mitigate hypothetical losses. Not soldiers. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Western journalists at a press conference last Friday that there is currently no further escalation of the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border. US President Joe Biden has subsequently escalated tensions by announcing his intention to send additional troops to the eastern flank of NATO countries, and our servile pro-Brussels Government supports this proposal. Hungary does not consider it advisable to deploy additional NATO forces on its territory. I agree with this position.
In my opinion, NATO, the USA and our Government, headed by Petr Fiala, Lipavský and others, are stirring the pot and want to drag us into a dangerous war. The whole problem needs to be resolved diplomatically, peacefully, and not further accelerated.