President-elect of the Czech Republic Petr Pavel has called on Ukraine to be admitted into NATO as soon as the war with Russia ends. His remarks came in an interview made with the BBC as Ukraine is taking the next steps in the process to secure EU membership.
Pavel, a former NATO Chairman, has taken a hardline pro-Ukrainian stance throughout his election campaign, which saw him defeat former Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš. Pavel has described the conflict as a “war against the system of international relations” and has previously advocated that the West should have taken a more proactive stance against Moscow since 2014.
Pavel affirmed his support for military aid to Ukraine, including the deployment of F-16s by the West, a move ruled out this week by President Biden but currently considered by French President Macron. The Czech president-elect also promised to speed up tank deliveries to Ukraine to prevent a potential Russian spring offensive
Our cities are not being destroyed by Russian artillery and missiles. But our future could be destroyed if we don’t support Ukraine to a successful end to this conflict.
Pavel received criticism from his opponent Andrej Babiš, who maintained that Pavel’s antagonistic approach ruled out a diplomatic solution with Russia. The Czech Republic was the first NATO nation to send military hardware to Ukraine, including Soviet-designed T72s and BMP1s.
Earlier this week, Pavel evoked anger from the Chinese government after accepting a call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, the first EU leader to de facto acknowledge the island’s sovereignty and break from his predecessor’s One China Policy.
Ukraine formally applied to join NATO in September 2022, with polls showing a split in Czech public opinion over supporting Ukraine and NATO. Pavel is expected to spend the time before his inauguration on May 9th visiting European capitals to lobby for the Ukrainian war effort.