Czechs to join Ukrainian foreign legion, President Zeman is supportive

Ukrainian soldiers inspect a damaged military vehicle after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Marienko Andrew)
By Karolina Klaskova
3 Min Read

In what could mark a serious escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a number of Western countries are authorizing sending foreign volunteers to fight in the war, with Czechia now likely to give consent as well.

According to the Czech Ministry of Defense, the first citizens who want to go with weapons in hand to defend Ukraine are now volunteering. Czech law allows it, but every volunteer needs the president’s consent. The current president, Miloš Zeman, will not prevent Czechs from going to Ukraine to fight if the government authorities approve it, he has stated.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the establishment of an international legion over the weekend. Zelensky is also calling for NATO to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine and for Ukraine to be granted EU membership.

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“The applicants are turning to the Ministry of Defense, which will assess the application together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, and only then will it go to the military officials and President Zeman. Therefore, it will undoubtedly depend on the recommendations of the government ministries that the president would hear,” said the President’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček.

The matter is currently being dealt with by lawyers from the ministries involved.

“The Czech Republic should allow its citizens to fight in Ukraine. If our people are brave and determined to go and fight for our freedom, they should have the opportunity,” said Martin Dvořák, deputy minister of foreign affairs, in an interview for the Seznam Zprávy news outlet podcast.

From the EU and NATO countries, Latvia has already legally allowed its citizens to fight in Ukraine. The United Kingdom and Denmark have also reportedly given the nod for foreign volunteers to join the fighting in Ukraine.

“If I see a precedent in other countries, I think it could happen very quickly. But legislation needs to be adjusted. We are already in that war, and Putin has already declared it. We are still trying to comply with international law. However, entering NATO into the war is beyond the bounds of the law,” Dvořák added.

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