600 Czech troops on standby for rapid deployment at NATO’s request

A Ukrainian border guard officer stands at the Ukrainian Belarusian state border checkpoint Novi Yarylovychi, Ukraine, Monday, Feb.21, 2022. (AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak)
By Karolina Klaskova
3 Min Read

Czechia stands ready to rapidly deploy hundreds of soldiers where needed at NATO’s request, Seznam Zprávy news outlet reports after directing questions to the Czech Ministry of Defence about the resources it has at its disposal in light of the escalating situation in Ukraine.

The Czech Ministry of Defence stated that the North Atlantic Alliance is constantly on standby with its collective Rapid Reaction Force, to which Czechia contributes units which change continuously at biannual intervals. The ministry confirmed that Czechia has its units ready in case of need, regardless of what is happening in Ukraine.

“By the end of June, Czechia has 180 anti-chemical specialists and about 400 members of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade on standby. However, their detachment is not a reaction to the current situation. The soldiers were already preparing for these tasks during the past year,” said Jakub Fajnor from the Ministry of Defence press department.

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Defence Minister Jana Černochová said on Monday that the deployment of Czech troops in Ukraine is now out of the question.

Due to the need for a rapid response to the development of security threats, NATO created the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) a few years ago, which can intervene to help an allied country within a matter of hours. The force consists of approximately 5,000 soldiers at any given time, which support the air, naval and special forces. The Alliance also has the NATO Response Force (NRF), a multinational force that the Alliance can use anywhere in the world in a matter of days to weeks.

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan reiterated several times that, if necessary, Czechia would send a police contingent to the Slovak-Ukrainian border if Slovakia so requested.

“We are discussing with the allies, among other things, the possibility of setting up new battle groups on NATO’s eastern wing. All possible options need to be discussed first with the representatives of our army and then at the political level,” ministry spokesperson Jakub Fajnor explained. “It would be premature and unprofessional to talk now about whether and where soldiers could be sent,” he added.

On Sunday, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it was preparing additional medical aid to Ukraine amounting to 10 million korunas (€409,000). Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský also claimed that his ministry was setting up two working groups, one to assess the situation in Ukraine and the other for humanitarian aid and its preparation. The minister also called on Czech citizens to be careful about disinformation concerning the situation in Ukraine.

According to Lipavský, the Czech embassy in Kiev remains open. The consul, for example, remains in place to make consular activity available.

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