War With Russia Is Not Likely, But Not Impossible, Says Czech Army Chief Rehka

Rehka said it was the duty of soldiers to describe reality, in order to increase preparedness and resilience. Credit: Armada CR.

Prague, Dec 11 (CTK) – A war with Russia is not likely now, but is not unthinkable either, Czech Chief of General Staff Karel Rehka said today at a conference in Prague entitled “Ready to Fight?”

According to Rehka, only deterrence will help prevent the conflict. Russia must realistically see the ability and will of European countries to defend themselves, he said, stressing the need to keep supporting Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February 2022.

Rehka said Russia had basically moved to a war economy and production, and intelligence services were still shortening their estimates on how long it would take Moscow to rebuild its fighting forces.

“Russia is managing to circumvent the sanctions through Central Asia and the Caucasus,” he said. “Russia is also using the deterrence of nuclear weapons and deliberately destabilising some regions. It has long been striving to undermine Western unity and challenge democracy and state institutions.” 

The aim of disinformation is not to convince those who see it, but to create uncertainty and distrust, he added.

“A war with Russia is not unthinkable, although we assess that it is not likely at the moment,” Rehka said. It could occur because of an unintended escalation or, for example, when an adversary becomes convinced that conflict is inevitable, he added. “There may be an occasion when Russia says now or never,” Rehka stated.

It is not possible to avoid conflict by agreement; only deterrence will work, Rehka stressed.

“Russia must realistically see that we have the ability and the will to defend ourselves. It’s not about some declaration, they have to see that actually it’s not worth it,” Rehka said.

He warned that the Russian military in Ukraine had transformed itself into a wartime army and was very different from the army that had arrived in the country last year with the belief that it could take over the country and install a puppet government in a brief “special operation.”

“Russia is preparing for an even longer and more intense war,” Rehka noted.

In that context, it is crucial to continue to support Ukraine, he argued. “Ukraine has shown the will and courage to defend itself, which is a lesson for us and other countries. It buys us time and keeps Russia away from our borders,” Rehka said.

He added that the war in Ukraine had also revealed some positives, such as unity within the European Union, which had surprised the Russians and probably the Union itself.

He rejected criticism that he was scaring the public with his earlier statements about preparing for war. “Society must be strong and cohesive. It is the duty of soldiers to describe reality… The aim is not to spread fear, but to increase preparedness and resilience,” he said.

It is impossible to build a resilient society without talking openly about threats, he noted. “Resilience is not something you talk about or wait for, resilience requires action,” he stressed, adding that the resilience of a society could be enhanced by education, training, but most importantly by the broader teaching of modern history.

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