Czechs beefing up defence over threat of Russian terror

The Czech minister of defence, Jana Černochová

The Czech minister of defence says the country’s army is stepping up the defence of strategic infrastructure due to the threat of Russian sabotage. Jana Černochová says Moscow is trying to weaken the arms industries in states that are helping Ukraine.

The Czech minister of defence, Jana Černochová, says that the safeguarding of facilities considered important for the protection of the state had been stepped up early last year.

This followed revelations that Russian agents had blown up munitions stores in Czechia – killing two – in 2014.

Such facilities include power stations, sources of drinking water, military buildings and arms depots.

Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Ms. Černochová said such protection had been intensified even further following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

“I guess I’m not giving away any secrets if I say that there has been a rise in efforts to monitor facilities that are important for our infrastructure. This regularly appears in intelligence reports.

“And that’s why at the Security Council and in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior we are discussing the fact that the army currently has an irreplaceable role.”

The defence chief says that Czech troops need to be deployed to carry out essential security operations – and will not be so commonly tasked with, for instance, humanitarian work.

Jana Černochová | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“In times of peace our soldiers could provide assistance after, for instance, floods, or dealing with the pandemic.

“But now, from February 24, we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation.

“That’s why we have only provided soldiers to guard the border temporarily, because we really need to deploy them elsewhere.

“We need to protect Czech infrastructure in such a way as we don’t see incidents like what happened in Bulgaria.”

This is a reference to an explosion at a Bulgarian arms maker last Tuesday that left three dead. Its parts are used in the production of artillery by Czech manufacturers.

Minister Černochová said it was Moscow’s aim to weaken the arms industries in states that are helping Ukraine.

Russia’s hybrid war could be behind sabotage to cables that caused trains to stop running in northern Germany on Saturday, she added.

In order to ensure Czechia is better ready to face potential Russian threats, Ms.Černochová said her officials had drafted changes to the relevant legislation.

“I will put forward a number of amendments that will allow for faster responses to such attempts.

“Because it’s one thing to detain a ‘culprit’ for a certain period, but the subsequent punishment is another – and it will be the subject of discussion on legislation that our ministry has prepared.

“It concerns authority that would be given to both the military police and military intelligence.”

In addition, the Czech defence minister said she was counting on the further reinforcement of NATO’s Eastern flank beyond the framework agreed at a summit in June.