Czech Prime Minister Peter Fiala told The Daily Beast that Western allies need to push more anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles into Ukraine to stem the Russian advance.
Peter Fiala has strong early memories of tanks. In August of 1968, the Soviet Army invaded Czechoslovakia and crushed an uprising against the dictatorial rule of the Soviet Union. More than 100 people were killed in the street while resisting soldiers.
At the time, Fiala was only 4 years old, but he still remembered his parents’ trauma, which continued long after the Soviet soldiers withdrew to their nearby barracks.
Now, Fiala is 57 years old and Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, which seceded peacefully from Slovakia in 1993. The Soviet invasion that went down in history as the “Prague Spring” made Fiala very vigilant when it comes to Russia.
That’s why Villa didn’t hesitate when she floated the idea of going to war-torn Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the European Union summit in Versailles.
“I saw Soviet tanks on the streets of Prague and I know very well what they did to my country for twenty years,” Fiala said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast. “I don’t want to see Russian tanks here or anywhere else in Europe again.”
He added, “If we do not defeat him (Putin) he will not stop in Ukraine. He will continue his movements and re-establish the USSR.”
Last week, three NATO prime ministers traveled by train to Kyiv to show their support for Zelensky in person. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša join Viala on a very unusual trip into a war zone.
It was a tense trip. Sirens went off as a train stopped near the western Ukrainian town of Lviv, warning everyone of an imminent Russian missile attack.
They arrived in Kyiv unharmed and were taken in a convoy of cars to a bunker-like facility where Zelensky met them. Smolka said it was like a ghost town, and that there were many checkpoints and roadblocks inside the town. The delegation took glimpses of damaged apartment buildings that had been hit by Russian shells or missiles.
Viala admits that he began to feel emotional when he witnessed the scale of the devastation. He saw some of Zelensky’s speeches before the European and British parliaments and the US Congress, and was moved.
Fiala returned to Prague with one urgent priority – the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, especially anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. “If they [the Ukrainians] have enough of these weapons, they can create their own no-fly zone,” Fiala said.