The Czech Republic’s incoming president said the only limit to weapons deliveries to Ukraine should be nuclear arms, and he expressed confidence that Ukrainian forces can defeat Russia.
Petr Pavel, a retired NATO general who takes office in March, also said President Vladimir Putin’s government isn’t the only one to possess nuclear weapons.
“I believe that we shouldn’t put any cap on equipment,” Pavel told Bloomberg Television in an interview in Prague Friday. “The only exception is nuclear weapons and direct involvement of NATO in the conflict.”
Pavel secured a convincing victory over billionaire former Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Saturday after a campaign that pledged to return the Czech Republic’s highest office to the European mainstream.
Pavel has vocally denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for more arms deliveries to Kyiv.
“Ukraine can defeat Russia on Ukrainian soil,” Pavel said. “That means to push Russian forces out of Ukraine and restore full territorial integrity and full sovereignty of Ukraine.”
The incoming president also warned that NATO members’ possession of nuclear weapons should act as a deterrent to any Russian considerations of atomic arms.
“We have nuclear capability as well,” Pavel said. “We don’t want to use it at all, but we are ready if necessary.”
Weapons deliveries from the US, Europe and other allies have helped Ukraine hold Russian forces back, though it’s not enough to seize back territory before what appears to be an imminent Russian offensive in the coming weeks, according to US and European officials.