Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic could be warming up to the idea of US troops stationed in the country following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This sensitive topic will be part of the discussions between Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová and her US counterpart Llyod Austin in Washington later this month.
Ms. Černochová told local daily Deník N that the issue will be part of the high-level bilateral meeting scheduled after Easter.
Although she did not go into the details and warned the negotiations and ratification could take a long time, she hinted that Prague could follow Slovakia’s example.
“I would like to raise this topic during the bilateral meeting. We can follow the path of the agreement that Slovakia took”, she said.
After weeks of intense debate, the Czech Republic’s neighbour recently signed a new defence agreement with Washington allowing US forces to use two military airports for a 10-year-period and bolstering defence ties between the two NATO allies.
“I do not want to mention any particular details, but I think it could be important for us if some agreement were in the making,” Černochová told Deník N. “We are exploring all avenues to secure our safety, to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank, and to be able to face the kind of aggressive threat that Russia under Vladimir Putin is demonstrating now.”
Quoted by Radio Prague, Czech Labour Minister Marian Jurečka said he had identified two possible locations for such bases, in Přerov, near the city of Olomouc, and another in Mošnov in the Moravian-Silesian region.
But there are signs that discussions might be premature, and that some members of the five-party government coalition are opposed to the idea.
Europe is home to approximately 100,000 US troops. The bulk of them are stationed in Germany (34,000), Italy (12,000) and the UK (9,000), or as part of NATO’s deterrence forces in Central and Eastern European countries including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria.
As part of NATO’s efforts to strengthen its eastern flank in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Czech Republic recently sent over 600 soldiers to Slovakia to lead a NATO battlegroup.