March 25, 2014

Czechs offer Gripens to protect airspace near Ukraine

Prague – The Czech Republic is prepared to provide its planes, including Gripen fighters, to protect the airspace of the countries bordering on or near Ukraine if it is asked for help, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) told public Czech Television (CT).

The participation of the Czech Republic in any massive NATO manoeuvres in reaction to Russian military activities in Ukraine is not being prepared, Stropnicky said in the Questions of Vaclav Moravec discussion on CT.Stropnicky said the United States had already sent several additional F-16 fighters to a Polish air base on the basis of Warsaw´s request.If the Czech Republic is asked, it can send event its supersonic Gripen fighters to protect the airspace of its partner countries, he added.

“Talks on the Romanian-Ukrainian border are underway,” Stropnicky said.Czech fighter pilots are undoubtedly prepared, he added.
Information surfaced a few days ago saying the Czech military might participate in some larger military exercises with the United States, Poland and probably some other NATO member states.
However, Stropnicky denied it. “Nothing like that is on the horizon,” he said.Stropnicky noted that even Russian President Vladimir Putin must realise that any considerations about Russian troops invading Ukrainian territory are like “science-fiction scenarios.”
According to CTK sources, the Czech Defence Ministry´s representatives are negotiating about a joint exercise with the United States and Poland but it is not planned in reaction to the Russian occupation of Crimea. It has long been prepared.

The government´s consent to the Czech Republic´s participation in joint activities with the United States and Poland is needed, the Defence Ministry´s communication section head Mira Trebicka told CTK.
In the past, Czech pilots of Gripens helped protect the airspace of the three Baltic NATO member states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, repeatedly.In the autumn, Czechs are to take part in a similar mission in the airspace of Iceland.

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