NATO Czechia Transfers Tanks to Ukraine. Czechia & Slovakia Mulling Repairing Ukrainian Tanks

Old T-72M1 variants from the 1980s, not hugely useful. But repairing Ukrainian tanks on their territory would be quite the escalation…

Source: Wall Street Journal

The Czech Republic has been sending old Soviet-era tanks into Ukraine, providing badly needed heavy weapons to outgunned Ukrainian troops that are battling a much better-equipped Russian invasion force.

The efforts, described by three Czech and Slovak officials, mark the first time a foreign country has provided tanks to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began Feb. 24. In a potentially even more important development, both the Czech Republic and neighboring Slovakia, which shares a border with Ukraine, are considering opening their military industrial installations to repair and refit damaged Ukrainian military equipment.

Russia’s campaign of missile strikes across Ukraine has targeted in particular the country’s defense industry, destroying facilities where such repairs and refitting could take place—something that makes the Czech and Slovak cooperation particularly valuable.

Western governments initially expected Kyiv to fall within a few days, and equipped the Ukrainian military mostly with shoulder-fired missiles such as NLAW, Javelin and Stinger that could be used by small insurgent units.

A donor’s conference of some 35 nations, convened by the U.K. in London last week, agreed to supply Ukraine with long-range artillery, anti-aircraft systems and infantry fighting vehicles, but stopped short of endorsing the transfer of tanks.

So far, the Czech Republic has sent slightly more than a dozen modernized, Soviet-designed T-72M tanks, said Czech defense ministry officials. The Central European country has also sent howitzer artillery pieces and BMP-1 amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, officials said.

These weapons supplies were funded by the Czech government, and private Czech donors who have chipped in to a government-backed crowdsourced fundraising campaign to arm Ukraine. Officials on NATO’s eastern flank generally worry that Western weapons and ammunition supply fall far short of what Ukraine needs considering the intensity of the war. In one day, Ukraine uses about as much weaponry as it receives in a week, a senior Polish official said.

NATO countries are looking to supply additional and more-advanced weapons systems, such as air-defense systems and U.S. Javelin antitank weapons, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday. He said allies are already supplying Kyiv with fuel, ammunition, helmets, protective gear and medical supplies. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization expects Russian troops to make a big push in Ukraine’s southeast in coming weeks and wants to quickly resupply Kyiv’s troops, Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Central European governments, with the notable exception of Hungary, are broadly eager to help rearm Ukraine, but some officials are nervous about depleting their own stockpiles of weapons and ammunition.

Several of those governments are turning to the Biden administration for assurances that the U.S. will help replace equipment they are donating to Ukraine. Czech supplies were reduced in 2014, when back to back explosions destroyed two warehouses holding more than 150 tons of ammunition. The government later blamed the blast on two agents from Russia’s military intelligence service.

“Much more, several times more, can be done if we join forces with other allies,” said Czech Deputy Defense Minister Tomáš Kopečný.

Slovenia, avowedly supportive of Kyiv, has been sending available military equipment to Ukraine from the beginning of the Russian aggression, its Prime Minister Janez Jansa told the Journal, to a point where it has run through its own stockpiles.

“If France, Germany or U.S. sent the same share per capita, Ukraine is already liberated,” he said. “Unfortunately, our reserves are depleted and now we try to replace equipment… with new delivery from U.S.,” he said. “Unfortunately, all procedures were slow, but [have] accelerated somehow after Bucha massacre.”

Moscow has warned that it considers arms shipments legitimate targets. So far, however, it hasn’t been able to choke off the daily military shipments to Ukraine from Poland, Romania or Slovakia. Russia’s air force, so far, also hasn’t demonstrated the capacity to disrupt military convoys between the border and front-line staging areas.

One road has been effectively closed off to NATO weapon shipments, however: the route through Hungary, whose Prime Minister

Viktor Orban was re-elected Sunday after vowing to block NATO from using his country to transport weapons to Ukraine.

Australia said this week it is flying Bushmaster armored vehicles to Europe for delivery to Ukraine, with the first four already painted in Ukrainian colors.

Beyond tanks, Central European governments, including the Czech Republic, are weighing the risks of letting Ukraine bring war-damaged equipment into their countries for repairs. Slovakia, which has no tanks available to give, has discussed the issue, a senior Slovak official said.

Those deliberations are part of a realization that Russia’s war with Ukraine could drag on for months if not longer—and that, in a war of attrition, Russia’s overwhelming advantage in equipment could tilt the scales in Moscow’s favor.

“If the war is going to get longer and longer, the war equipment that is being damaged needs to get serviced,” said a Czech defense ministry official. “Ukrainian repair houses are 100% busy, and they are asking other nearby allies to help them with repairs.”

  1. ken says

    We all know the Bucha massacre is US/Ukraine BS.

    That said,,, I can not think of a better way to discourage Russian’s at home than by the way Mr. Putin and his Generals are handling this ‘war’. The moral of the Russian military in Ukraine must be at absolute bottom. Russia’s handling of the Wests propaganda is plain out stupid. If the West is actually shipping in weapons to Ukraine without any response from Russia, (other than threatening some kind of stupid court action) it will cost more Russian military lives which it apparently the Kremlin think are expendable.

    IMO this military action is so botched it appears to me to be purposeful. I sure as hell would not want to be a soldier in the Russian military serving in Ukraine…. It would be embarrassing….. and life threatening.

    1. Face of Castlereagh says

      It was apparent before Bucha that Zelensky was going to be on the hook for the non-stratagem of fighting out of population centers, instead of developing fortifications outside of the population centers – which would have been easy to target and engage by the Rus forces.

      When the Germans lost the Seelow Heights, the fight inside of Berlin was really no longer coordinated by the Wermacht, for instance, and what you started encountering were Civilian ‘warlords’ hanging their fellow citizens from lamp-posts – or worse – as warnings to anyone who failed to fight.

      In effect the presence of massed civilians in population centers has protected the military, instead of advance military positions protecting population centers, inside Ukraine.

      I think that the Russians would be wise to insist that the Bucha deaths be investigated through a forensic effort that is transparent, and determines what actually happened outside of the propaganda streams generated by those with a personal interest in the outcome.

      When the Ukrainians made the decision to arm anyone who showed up at dispensaries, along with released prisoners, I watched the video of the arms coming out of the crates more out of personal interest in identifying what armaments (anything interesting to me = SVT / AVT ) were being deployed (former Nagant owner, btw.)

      I noted, in one Uke-based video, AK-47 mags being handled, which a lot of Americans like me own and can identify on sight due to Romak/Bulgar/Chinese 47’s sold in the US. The Russians would have long ago moved to the AK-74 = 5.45×39.

      It would be easy to answer this question by interviewing some of the foreign nats who fled from the Uke Legion, but if the Ukes are distributing 47’s + mags from old stock to 3rd line forces and random civilians..

      while the Russians would be expected to utilize (if for no other reason than supply issues) the 74, it could point toward an answer of whose forces most likely committed a war crime, simply from the autopsy alone.

      The ammo being distributed with 47’s is going to be identifiable as to age of manufacture simply from casing markings, whereas it would seem doubtful that Russia would even have much left, after selling old most of this NOS to the US markets back when they were blessing me with hexagon barreled Nagants.

      A .40 cal small arms headshot would not be native to any Russian employed small arms, whereas this would be strongly indicative of small arms supplied by western militaries and potentially passed out to irregulars that we know the Ukes armed up..

      If you go back to the US Revolutionary War, my paternal ancestor had to march all the way to Richmond the enlist in the Virginia Militia. This concept of an ‘induction’, even back before modern transport, is necessary because passing out weapons to random people, or allowing anyone to organically form up local armed gangs to prowl for traitors or ememies, will always end up the same way, which is with non-combatants hanging from lamp-posts at the hands of this disorganized mob.

  2. guest says

    >>> “Viktor Orban was re-elected”

    Lockdowns, curfews, house-arrests, facemasks worked just as well in Hungary as anywhere else.
    Then the prime minister announced that he authorized the distribution of Russian made vaccine.
    Then the prime minister announced that he authorized the distribution of Chinese made vaccine.
    Then the prime minister announced that the pFizer vaccine finally arrived, and authorized the distribution of it, too.

    In the five months, following the start of the vaccination campaign against the people of Hungary —according to official announcement— 32,000 people died from Korona Covid Wuhan bat-flu. (compare that to zero, prior to the arrival of the safe & effective)

    It is clear, Russian, Chinese and Warp-Speed vaccines work equally well. It is also clear, Orban, Putin, Xi are just as good for your health & longevity as Trump or Biden or Merkel, or whoever.


    In the 1990s, while Yugoslavia was disolving and large groups of people were killing each other there, Russia wanted to send a few train-loads of stuff to Serbia through Hungary. Hungary didn’t allow it.

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