“Ukraine deserves to join NATO as soon as Russia’s war on the country ends,” said the newly elected Czech President Petr Pavel to BBC.
The retired NATO general added that Ukraine should be “morally and practically ready” to join the alliance once the conflict is over.
“Ukraine deserves to be part of the community of democratic countries,” Pavel said in his first interview with the foreign press.
Regarding Western military support to Ukraine, Pavel said that there ought to be almost no limits on what countries could send to the Kyiv government.
“We have no alternative,” said the president-elect. “If they lose – we all lose,” added Pavel, who said the handover of fighter jets was not taboo. But he fears the delivery of the warplanes could be too slow.
“I am proud of my country being one of the first to provide Ukraine with significant military help,” he told the BBC.
The Czech Republic was the first Western country to send tanks and infantry fighting vehicles – Soviet-designed T72s and BMP1s – to Kyiv, part of a series of deliveries of heavy weapons that reportedly began as early as March 2022.
“Peace depends entirely on Russia and we would support even the slightest sign of a willingness to negotiate to stop the conflict.”
“Once there is even the slightest chance of peace talks, let’s support it. But there are no signs of it from the Russian side,” said Pavel, who was often portrayed as a warmonger during the campaign.
“What needs to be said is this: the end of war is entirely in Russian hands. It would take only one decision from President Putin to withdraw his forces from Ukraine and the war is over.”
Pavel will be inaugurated as Czech president on March 9.