EU and Ukrainian flags in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels.
Bratislava – The possible admission of Ukraine to the European Union will not arouse as much controversy as the consideration of its admission to the North Atlantic Alliance. EU membership can be better explained, even to those who do not wish to join, as an economic, social, cultural step, and not a military one. President Petr Pavel told ČTK in an interview during his visit to Bratislava. Ukraine currently mainly needs armored vehicles, means of anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense or artillery ammunition, the president thinks. According to him, it is more complicated with airplanes. Pavel will go to Ukraine in April, for security reasons he did not want to specify the date.
Photo gallery: President Petr Pavel
Many EU countries agree, according to Pavle, that Ukraine should be invited to the bloc as soon as possible. The fact that a number of representatives of the Union visited the country attacked by Russia also speaks of this. Pavel believes that the post-war reconstruction, which does not have to start until after the war, can help bring the country closer to the twenty-seventh.
“I think that the membership of Ukraine or any country in the European Union can always be better explained, even to those who do not want it, as an economic, social, cultural, and not a military step. Certainly, the possible admission of Ukraine to the European Union will not arouse as many controversies as consideration of its admission to NATO,” noted the president.
According to him, Ukraine is starting to lack material and ammunition. If it is not to fail in its defense, it is necessary to provide it with what it needs for a successful defense, or a counter-offensive to restore its borders. “First of all, they are armored vehicles. They are means of anti-aircraft and also anti-missile defense, because we see how mass attacks on civilian infrastructure aim to paralyze Ukraine and how much they cause loss of life and material values,” Pavel said.
Furthermore, it is ammunition, as its consumption during intense fights is enormous. “Ukraine needs, for example, around 10,000 shells per day in the category of artillery ammunition,” the president added, adding that Ukraine currently does not have the production capacity. “Russia has huge stocks in warehouses, and even if it has problems with the logistics of how to get those stocks to the battlefield, it still has somewhere to draw from. Ukraine doesn't,” the head of state added.
When asked whether the Czech Republic should offer Ukraine L-159 light combat aircraft, Pavel stated that they are a type that the Ukrainian Air Force has never had, so it has no infrastructure for it and the pilots are not trained for it. “It may be an easier machine to operate than, say, supersonic aircraft, but it's the same problem. You have to prepare all the logistics, service, traffic control, fuel management, special munitions, and then also train the ground and air personnel. And that's a matter of half a year to a year, depending on the type,” he said. The supply of MiG-29 airplanes makes more sense.
When Ukraine starts reconstruction, it is possible to start talking about what can be provided to it for the construction of the army already on a peaceful basis, the president believes.
Pavel considers it important to be on Ukraine's side not only verbally, but also through material or financial assistance. “This is the only thing that can not only maintain the morale of Ukrainian soldiers, but also of the Ukrainian public, which is extremely high so far,” he stated. According to him, the rhetoric needs to be focused not only on assuring Ukraine of further help, but also on explaining the necessity of helping the attacked country to Czech citizens. “If our own citizens do not see the point of helping Ukraine, if they do not perceive it as helping ourselves, then it will be difficult for us to maintain the pace of aid,” added Pavel.