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23 Mar, 2023 11:44

EU state’s president warns of Western split

Czech leader Petr Pavel is concerned about a lack of unity in the approach to Russia and China
EU state’s president warns of Western split

Czech President Petr Pavel has cautioned EU countries against overconfidence and competing with each other, and instead urged the West to present a united front against Russia and China. 

Speaking on Tuesday at a debate hosted by the German Council for Foreign Relations, the Czech leader called on EU states to adhere to “Western values” and prioritize cooperation and unity, not only to oppose Moscow, but also to counter Beijing’s growing influence.  

Pavel, a retired general who previously served as chief of the NATO Military Committee, also advocated continued support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, and claimed that this year will be crucial in determining the outcome of the hostilities. 

Pavel predicted that neither Russia nor Ukraine will have the capacity for further offensives beyond 2023, which is why he believes a rapid supply of weapons to Ukrainian forces is in Europe’s interest. 

However, the Czech leader admitted in an interview with German news outlet Suddeutsche Zeitung that his country has depleted its capabilities of supplying Kiev with weapons. “The Czech Republic helped Ukraine with the supply of weapons as best it could, but it no longer has the capacity to do so,” said the president. 

Pavel claimed that the Czech Republic still has certain capabilities in the areas of air defense and the production of ammunition. However, he noted that the latter has become problematic due to a lack of labor, and suggested that a solution could be inviting workers from Ukraine to man the factories.  

The Czech Republic has emerged as one of Kiev’s most active supporters in the conflict with Russia. Pavel has headed the Czech government since January 2023, and has repeatedly advocated unlimited military aid for Ukraine, while backing Kiev’s NATO aspirations. 

Pavel has stated that he would like to see Russia weakened so that Moscow pursues “cooperation, not aggression.” He has also asserted that only a change of the “Russian regime from within” would allow the EU to return to business as usual in its relations with Moscow.