Tensions between Czechia and Russia can be traced back to a 2014 ammunition depot explosion

Two died at the time, and the damage amounted to several billion dollars

Vrbětice ammunition depot explosion in 2014. (Czech police)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Ten years ago, in October and December 2014, an ammunition depot in Vrbětice, Moravia, was rocked by explosions. The detonations killed two people and caused huge material damage. It took several years to defuse and clear the remaining explosive devices.

The Czech Police’s Center for Organized Crime continues to hold Russia responsible for the blasts. In a press conference on Monday, they announced that although they consider it proven that the two Russian citizens suspected of carrying out the 2018 assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, U.K., committed the attack, they were forced to close the investigation due to the lack of information necessary to bring charges, as the Russian side refused to cooperate with the investigation.

According to information from the Czech police, the Russian military intelligence spies were working to prevent the transfer of weapons and ammunition from the Vrbětice warehouse to areas where Russian military personnel were active. Russian agents traveled to the Czech Republic specifically for this purpose and left immediately after the operation was completed.

It was this attack that fundamentally changed the relationship between Prague and Moscow.

At the time, there were still dozens of diplomats working at the Russian embassy in Prague, and the then Czech head of state Miloš Zeman was very friendly towards Moscow. After the bombing, this relationship took a turn for the worse. The Czech government made public the accusations against Russia in April 2018, under the premiership of Andrej Babiš, which the Kremlin rejected. Both countries subsequently expelled diplomats, and Russia added the Czech Republic to its list of “unfriendly” countries.

Russia is also considered an enemy by the current government. Prime Minister Petr Fiala reacted on social media to the results of the investigation by the Center for Organized Crime. He said that the Russians had been waging a hybrid war against the Czech Republic for a long time.

Czech President Petr Pavel said it was right that the police had clearly stated who they suspected of carrying out the bombings.

“This was a prepared action carried out by soldiers of the Russian Federation. They murdered two Czech citizens and caused billions of dollars of damage,” the Czech president said on X, adding that Russia had attacked the sovereignty of the Czech Republic in the most brutal way since the Soviet occupation in 1968.

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