EU country sends attack choppers to Ukraine – WSJ
The Czech government has donated Soviet-built attack helicopters to Ukraine, and in the coming weeks will open up its repair yards to the entire range of armored vehicles used by Kiev’s forces, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The donation, a major escalation in Prague's involvement in Ukraine, was made following discussions with the US.
The helicopters – 1970s-era Mi-24 gunships – were deployed to Ukraine in recent weeks, the newspaper reported. Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin thanked Prague for providing the choppers, after a conference aimed at rallying America’s allies to arm Kiev.
The Czech Republic has already delivered tanks and anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, and along with Slovakia, has repaired Ukrainian light armored vehicles in its repair yards. However, it will soon expand this service to “refit the entire breadth of vehicle types used by [Ukraine’s] land-based forces,” the Wall Street Journal quoted a Czech official as saying.
“It is the start of what is probably going to be a bigger effort,” the official said. However, Deputy Defense Minister Tomas Kopecny acknowledged that opening the country up as a repair yard for its neighbor would be “a risk,” and could be seen as Czech participation in the conflict.
Moscow has already accused the US and its allies of waging a “war by proxy” against Russia via their supply of arms, training, and intelligence to Ukrainian forces. Russia has also conducted regular strikes against warehouses of Western weapons within Ukraine, declaring them “legitimate targets.”
Amid the influx of foreign weapons, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba conceded on Wednesday that the situation in the Donbass region – where Russian forces are steadily advancing on Ukrainian-held towns and fortifications – is “extremely bad.” However, Kuleba followed up this prognosis with a request for more Western arms – in this case, American-made M270 MLRS rocket launchers, which he said could allow his country’s forces to hold out longer.