President-elect Petr Pavel.
Kyiv/Prague – Ukraine's allies should hope for the best, but they should also prepare for potentially worse consequences, Czech President-elect Petr Pavel told the Ukrainian website Suspilne. The war may not end this year, but it may turn into a long-term conflict. That is why, according to Pavel, it is important to provide Kyiv with everything it needs now, but also to be ready for long-term help so that it can continue to defend the country and turn it into a victory. After the end of the conflict with Russia, Ukraine should become a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, Pavel also stated in the interview.
Photo gallery: Russian invasion of Ukraine
In an interview, Pavel said that most of the debates on this topic at the Munich Security Conference, which he attended in mid-February, seemed too optimistic to him. “In a certain way, the possible negative consequences were overlooked. I agree that one should have good hopes. But it is much better to think about possible worse consequences. That is why I said: let's do everything for Ukraine to win this year, but be prepared for other possible results,” said Pavel.
According to him, one of them could be a protracted or frozen conflict. According to Pavel, the allies should therefore be prepared to help Ukraine in the long term and be able to explain this support to their population. But they should not push Kiev to make concessions, for example regarding the recovery of the entire territory, while there is still a real chance of victory.
“Only Ukraine can make such a decision, because our people are not dying there. It is not our cities that are being destroyed. It is much easier to tell you: you must stick to your principles to the last drop of blood. It sounds good, but it is not our blood, but yours. So I say it's up to you,” Pavel stated.
Pavel expressed himself in the same way when asked what his opinion is about restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which is the goal of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “President Zelenskyi has no other choice. You can imagine that the leader of a country that was attacked would say: 'Okay, let's accept the loss of territory'. It is therefore natural that he aims to liberate the entire territory,” Pavel said. “But then, of course, if the reality turns out to be different than we would like, some corrections can be made. But only the Ukrainian people and your leader can make them, not us,” he added.
Until the war will end and the sovereignty of Ukraine will be restored, then, according to Pavel, the question of membership in NATO will arise. “In terms of technical compatibility, Ukraine has done its homework. In terms of values and long-term strategic interests, we have full compatibility again,” Pavel said. “Therefore, the only remaining condition is that there is no conflict or territorial dispute,” added the Czech president-elect.
After the end of the conflict, Pavel would support Ukraine's entry into NATO because, in his opinion, it deserves it for “observing the standards and the defense of values that are important to us all”. “Also, the Ukrainian army will probably be the most experienced of all and would be a great asset to NATO countries. So there are all the reasons why we should consider Ukraine's membership in NATO immediately after the war,” said Pavel.