The Czech foreign minister’s three words of advice to the Biden administration are to send “weapons, weapons, weapons” to Ukraine from American and western arsenals so Kyiv is not relying on leftover Soviet Union stockpiles.
“U.S. industry and [the American] Army play a key role” in “weakening Russia” and setting the stage for Ukraine’s victory in the war now entering its third month, Jan Lipavsky said Tuesday at an online Atlantic Council forum.
Ukrainian armed forces have proven they can effectively “use highly efficient drones … to help artillery” destroy Russian targets and also use anti-air systems, including Stinger missiles, to prevent Russian dominance of the skies, Lipavsky said. He added that training times for proficiency could be reduced under the pressures of combat.
Lipavsky admitted that “there may be issues” with Soviet-era equipment shipped from the Czech Republic and Poland to Ukraine. To correct the problems, he said Prague “is helping with repair work” so the armor can be fielded quickly, as Moscow shifts its forces eastward.
Prague has also shipped multiple launch rocket systems, artillery and armored personnel carriers to Kyiv since the Russians attack.
“Honestly, I think our [NATO’s and the European Union’s] policy decisions were right” to come to Ukraine’s side with weapons and economic assistance, including humanitarian aid, Lipavsky said at the online forum. The United States’ and the United Kingdom’s decisions in the late fall and early winter to ship weapons before the Feb. 24 invasion staved off a quick Russian victory in the ground war, he said.
Asked whether Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin went too far when he said it was the U.S.’s intention to weaken Russia and provide for a Ukrainian victory, Lipavsky said, “I’m very happy for those words.”
In his remarks, Lipavsky said the reason to support Kyiv comes down to “the will of Ukraine for freedom, open society, for democracy, for values of freedom of speech. [Ukrainian president Volodymr] Zelensky was democratically elected, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin [was] not. That’s the difference.”