Czech PM: Ukraine’s fight is our fight too

Petr Fiala is the prime minister of the Czech Republic.

While Russian missiles are destroying Ukrainian cities, shopping malls and schools, the Ukrainian army is steadily advancing east, reclaiming territory unjustly — and illegally — seized by Russia.

As they liberate villages, Ukrainian soldiers are encountering destroyed homes, unearthing mass graves and discovering other evidence of Russia’s barbarism. Nevertheless, the news from the front gives us hope that the conflict is moving in the direction we all hoped for.

We believed, from the beginning, that this counteroffensive would come. It was also always clear that, despite all its heroism and determination, Ukraine could not manage this struggle without extensive help from the West, and I am proud that my country was one of the first to offer not just large-scale humanitarian aid, but also weapons. We have sent tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, ammunition and more, all to help the outnumbered Ukrainian forces.

Additional assistance was also organized directly by Czech citizens in a series of spontaneous collections, unprecedented in its scale. Only a few days ago, the Czech population successfully collected enough money to send a tank named Thomas to Ukraine.

Furthermore, the Czech Republic has aided Ukrainian women, children and the elderly who fled the war to save their lives. We have taken in more than 400,000 refugees — an enormous number for our country of just 10 million. Many of those who have decided to stay in the Czech Republic have been able to find jobs here as well, and they are successfully integrating into our society, with children enrolling in schools. All this, without any significant issues or conflicts.

All of these actions — providing asylum for refugees, a supply of weapons and solidarity of our citizens — are ways of standing up for what’s right. They are also vital steps toward our survival.

Ukraine’s fight is our fight too. The Czech Republic’s fight, the European Union’s fight, the whole of Europe’s fight. Our own geopolitical prospects depend on the outcome of this war. The fate of Ukraine is directly linked to the international order in which we must live, and it will decide what the aggressors of the world will be allowed to do in the future.

Therefore, without a free Ukraine, there is no free Europe. And if Russia destroys Ukraine, it is us — Central and Eastern Europe — who are standing right behind it, waiting in line to be attacked next.

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