Over 550 requests to travel and fight have reportedly been filed with the Czech Republic’s president though the majority were rejected
More than 150 Czechs have received official approval from their country’s head of state to fight for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, website iDNES.cz has reported, citing the president’s office.
Authorization from the republic’s president is the only proper green light for Czech citizens to avoid problems with the law at home after joining the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the outlet claimed.
More than 550 people have applied for such approval since February 2022, the president’s office said, when ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated into military conflict. However, most of these requests were turned down, it added.
As of December 1, 151 men and one woman in the Czech Republic have been officially allowed to become members of the Ukrainian military.
Then-Czech President Milos Zeman had approved 132 such requests, with 20 more being greenlighted by Petr Pavel, who replaced Zeman in office in March, iDNES.cz said.
In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that foreign mercenaries fighting on the side of Kiev have also been suffering “significant losses” amid Ukraine’s flailing attempts to mount a counteroffensive.
Moscow will make sure that “the public in the countries whose governments send people to the war zone” is aware of what is actually happening on the battlefield in Ukraine so that it could properly “evaluate the actions of their governments,” Putin said.
Throughout the conflict, the Russian Ministry of Defense has reported several major strikes on deployment sites with foreign mercenaries in Ukraine, in which it said there were hundreds of casualties.
The ministry also warned that soldiers of fortune aren’t viewed as combatants under international law and “the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms.”
Prague has been among the most vocal EU supporters of Kiev amid its conflict with Moscow. According to the Czech Defense Ministry, it has provided Ukraine with more than $245 million in military aid, including tanks, howitzers, helicopters and ammunition.
The Chief of the Czech Republic’s General Staff Karel Rehka on Monday again stressed the need to keep providing aid to Kiev, arguing that Ukraine “buys us time and keeps Russia away from our borders.”