Ukraine high on agenda as Fiala meets Biden at White House

Petr Fiala and Joe Biden

Support for Ukraine in the face of Moscow’s aggression was among the main items on the agenda when the Czech prime minister, Petr Fiala, was welcomed at the White House by US President Joe Biden on Monday. Indeed Mr. Fiala told his host he remembered Russian tanks on Czech streets – and did not wish to see them again.

President Joe Biden expressed gratitude to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala for his country’s contribution to Ukraine’s war effort in comments in front of journalists ahead of a meeting at the White House on Monday afternoon.

Mr. Biden also referred to Czechia as a “great, great ally” and said the two countries shared core values: human rights, freedom and democracy.

Joe Biden and Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

He also said, “as the Czech Republic remembers, Russia won’t stop in Ukraine.”

For his part, Mr. Fiala – who turns 60 later this year – shared a personal recollection with his host before the leaders headed into the Oval Office.

“In 1968 I was a little boy. In 1968 I saw Russian tanks in the streets of my town. And I don’t want to see this again.”

The Czech PM also outlined in more specific terms just how his country was aiding the embattled Ukrainians, including its much heralded drive to source large amounts of ammunition.

“We must continue to support Ukraine as long as possible. That is the reason for the Czech ammunition initiative. It will provide Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of artillery shells very soon – it will happen in the next few weeks and months. And Czechia is also the country with the most Ukrainian refugees per capita in Europe, maybe even the world.”

Petr Fiala and Joe Biden | Photo: Office of Czech Government

Following the behind-closed-doors talks between the leaders Petr Fiala again appeared in front of reporters, this time at the entrance to the White House. He said he and Mr. Biden had again discussed Ukraine, as well as mutual trade, nuclear fuel – and other issues.

“He described his feelings 25 years ago, when several countries, including the Czech Republic, became members of NATO. We agreed that that was a historic moment that was absolutely key for the security of Europe.”

Earlier in the day Mr. Fiala had met with CIA director William Burns at the agency’s Langley Park headquarters in Washington.

The Czech PM said the pair, along with the heads of Czechia’s three secret services, had discussed a variety of security issues.

Mr. Fiala told reporters the invitation in itself reflected the American side’s high level of confidence in their Czech allies and was an acknowledgement of the continuing security cooperation between the two countries.

The PM also found time to meet with Czech expatriates in Washington on Monday, including Jana Kánská, the daughter of Milada Horáková, who was executed by the Communists in the 1950s.

Mr. Fiala presented the 91-year-old Ms. Kánská with the Karel Kramář Medal and praised the fact that, despite her family’s cruel treatment, she had no resentment toward the Czech lands.