The decision by Czechia to become the first country to deliver tanks to Ukraine during the ongoing conflict in the country was not well received in Russia, as media outlets compared the move to providing support to Nazi Germany during World War II.
Czech-Russian relations have been at freezing point for a long time and Czechia’s active support for Ukraine has further exacerbated harsh rhetoric.
“We are witnessing increasing negative rhetoric towards the Czech Republic,” said Russia expert Daniela Kolenovská.
Last week, for example, Russian diplomats openly laughed at the Czechs who urged them not to continue to represent the Russian political leadership, which decided to carry out an “apocalyptic destruction” of its neighbor.
That led merely to the designation of Czech diplomacy as an “American puppy.” The Russian newspaper Arguments and Facts went a little further in comparison. In response to sending tanks and other heavy equipment to Ukraine, it compared the delivery with the production of tanks and other equipment for Nazi Germany in the occupied Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during World War II.
“There are many parallels between the events of 80 years ago and today,” the paper suggested.
According to Kolenovská, the offensive statements of Russian diplomats and journalists must be seen as a need of Russia’s political elite to consolidate and discipline Russian society for the war that has been ongoing since 2014. In Kolenovská’s view the long and costly war has led to Russia choosing a verified Stalinist strategy — threats of external and internal enemies and repression while exacerbating its confrontational rhetoric inside Russian society.
Negative rhetoric escalates
According to Kolenovská, Russia is escalating its negative rhetoric towards the Czech Republic in general, which is a part of the manifestation of the growing isolation of the Russian regime. The Cold War terminology is being used against Czechia because the World War II victory is the only topic on which all Russians can agree. Kolenovská also noted that the favorable views of Russia by a part of the Czech political spectrum has disappeared from the Russian media.
Relations between the Czech Republic and Russia were markedly worsened by a major diplomatic rift last year, which was triggered by findings by Czech intelligence services that Russian intelligence agents were involved in the 2014 ammunition depots explosions in Vrbětice in the Zlín region.
This was also reflected in the presentation of the Czech Republic in the Russian media. In addition to the harsh mutual exclusion of diplomats after the findings in Vrbětice, Russia also included Czechia on the list of “not friendly countries” together with the United States.
Czechia then strongly sided with Ukraine in the ongoing war, which Russia instigated on Feb. 24. Prior to Wednesday’s meeting with colleagues from other NATO nations, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates) said that Czechia was supplying Ukraine with weapons that Kyiv was asking for to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty against Russian aggression. He however refused to talk about Czech supplies of weapons or the details of the delivery.
“We must send the weapons which Ukraine needs to fight this barbaric war Putin is waging against it,” said Lipavský.