The Czech Republic has delivered tanks, multiple rocket launchers, howitzers, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine among military shipments that have reached hundreds of millions of dollars and will continue, two Czech defense sources said.
Ukraine has repeatedly called on the West to urgently supply more weapons, especially heavy equipment, as Russian forces regroup in the country’s east for new offensive after withdrawing from the capital Kyiv and other regions.
NATO members are providing a wide range of weapon systems to the country, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
The Czech Republic has spare equipment that Ukrainian forces are familiar with in storage as well as a defense industry focused on upgrades and trade in such weapons. It has been among the most active EU nations in backing Ukraine.
Defense sources confirmed a shipment of five T-72 tanks and five BVP-1, or BMP-1, infantry fighting vehicles seen on rail cars in photographs on Twitter and video footage this week, but those were not the first shipments of heavy equipment.
“For several weeks, we have been supplying heavy ground equipment – I am saying it generally but by definition it is clear that this includes tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, howitzers, and multiple rocket launchers,” a senior defense official said.
The sources declined to discuss numbers of weapons supplied.
The senior defense official said the Czechs were also supplying a range of anti-aircraft weaponry.
Independent defense analyst Lukas Visingr said short-range air-defense systems Strela-10, or SA-13 Gopher in NATO terminology, have been spotted on a train apparently bound for Ukraine, in line with a report in Czech weekly respekt.cz.
The Czech program to ship weapons includes money raised by public fundraising by the Ukrainian embassy, which has raised $37.45 million, according to the embassy website.