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Czech Republic to provide helicopters, F-16 training to Ukraine

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said his country will provide Ukraine with helicopters and training for Ukrainian pilots on American-made F-16 fighter planes. Photo courtesy of Volodymyr Zelensky/Twitter
1 of 2 | Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said his country will provide Ukraine with helicopters and training for Ukrainian pilots on American-made F-16 fighter planes. Photo courtesy of Volodymyr Zelensky/Twitter

July 7 (UPI) -- The Czech Republic will transfer helicopters and participate in a program to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced Friday.

"The Czech Republic is one of the largest suppliers of military assistance to Ukraine. The war has lasted almost 500 days. We have sent 676 pieces of heavy equipment and over 4 million pieces of medium- and large-caliber ammunition to Ukraine," Fiala said in a statement posted to Twitter after a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Prague.

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Fiala also said the Czech Republic would provide hundreds of thousands of large-caliber rounds, as well as simulators to help train Ukrainian pilots.

At a meeting of G7 leaders in Japan in May, U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States would support training of Ukrainian fighter pilots on the American-made F-16. Foreign military sales agreements require U.S. permission for transferring the aircraft to other nations.

The Defense Department has received requests from several countries seeking permission to train Ukrainians on the F-16 at sites in Europe.

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The Czech Prime Minster pointed out that his nation has provided 676 pieces of heavy equipment and an average of 10,000 rounds of ammunition, at least one air defense system, special vehicle or tank to Ukraine per day since Russian's invasion in February 2022.

Zelensky thanked Fiala "for a new, powerful, very timely defense package for Ukraine" and for hosting Ukrainian refugees.

"I am also grateful for the support of our people -- all Ukrainians, our IDPs, who have been protected in the Czech Republic from Russian terror, from this inhumanity and aggression," Zelensky said in a statement posted to Twitter.

He also thanked his hosts in advance for supporting Ukraine at the NATO summit in Lithuania, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I thank the Czech Republic for supporting all our efforts to make the summit in Vilnius meaningful for everyone -- not only for Ukraine, but also for the entire alliance," Zelensky said.

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