The Czech Republic has become the first NATO country to deliver tanks and heavy infantry equipment to Ukraine following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s pleas for help from the West.
Over a dozen T-72 tanks, BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, and howitzer artillery pieces were shipped to Slovakia en route to Ukraine, broadcaster Czech Television showed.
The delivery signals a notable escalation against Russia by a NATO ally, raising the possibility that NATO could soon plunge itself into a direct military conflict with Russia despite carefully waging a proxy campaign since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February.
“Much more, several times more, can be done if we join forces with other allies,” said Czech Deputy Defense Minister Tomáš Kopečný.
Curiously, the shipment is not only funded by Prague, but by private donors through a crowdfunding campaign organized by the government.
Until today, NATO allies had refused to send heavy military equipment, instead opting to send anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, small arms and protective equipment, ammunition, and medical equipment to portray itself as less involved in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
The U.S. Department of Defense has even shot down a proposal by Poland to send 28 MiG jets to Ukraine, claiming such a move would be “untenable.”
But all that changed following Ukraine’s questionable accusations of a massacre perpetrated by Russia in Bucha.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Wednesday ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels that the trans-Atlantic bloc will begin discussing other allied countries sending heavy military equipment to Ukraine, adding the conflict “could last months, even years.”
“Since the invasion allies have stepped up their support. I also expect that ministers when they meet today and tomorrow will discuss how they can further support Ukraine,” he said without providing details.
“I can say that the totality of what allies are doing is significant and that includes also some heavier systems combined with lighter systems.”
“We need also to be prepared for the long haul, both when it comes to supporting Ukraine, sustaining sanctions and strengthening our defenses,” he added.
Russia has withdrawn its forces from Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine to consolidate and regroup them in the eastern Donbas region of the country as part of its military operation’s “next phase.”
Now it appears that NATO is preparing its own phase to end its proxy campaign in favor of direct military intervention in Ukraine against a nuclear power.