Czech and US defense ministers confirm interest in concluding defense agreement

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stands with Czech Republic's Defense Minister Jana Cernochova during an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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The defense ministers of the Czech Republic and the United States confirmed their interest in concluding a defense cooperation agreement in Washington on Thursday.

Unlike similar U.S. treaties with other countries, the agreement will be more general — for example, it will not specify the exact number of soldiers to be deployed to the country, nor will it mention the establishment of a U.S. military base in the Czech Republic.

“I would like to officially confirm the Czech intention to sign the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), which will strengthen our position as a good ally of the United States,” said Czechia’s Defense Minister Jana Černochová, who is of the belief that the agreement will deepen cooperation within NATO.

The agreement will also reportedly help with the modernization of the Czech army which is trying to replace outdated Soviet equipment. According to Černochová, Czechia is in the middle of negotiations to acquire more Bell helicopters, and must also address the future of the heavy brigade and fighter jets.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin promised that he would see to it that the Czech Republic had priority with the United States regarding its planned modernization projects.

On the other hand, Černochová did not mention the issue of establishing a U.S. military base in the Czech Republic during the negotiations with Austin, and the defense agreement will not contain a reference to it either.

Czechia is aiding Ukraine

In her introductory speech, Černochová also reminded Austin of Czech aid to Ukraine in the form of receiving 300,000 refugees, diplomatic support, and the provision of military equipment. Černochová also stated that the Czech Republic will honor its NATO spending commitment and will spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense by 2025.

“We cannot give in to Russian aggression and the war criminal Putin,” Černochová insisted, assuring Austin, whom she invited to Prague, that Czechia is ready to send more military equipment to Ukraine.

The U.S. minister said the meeting with Černochová had come at a critical moment for European security due to Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine, and praised Czechia’s assistance to Ukraine and highlighted the Czech involvement in the alliance group in Slovakia.

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