NATO troops could carry out support activities directly on Ukrainian territory as this would not violate any international rules, Czech President Petr Pavel said in an interview for Czech Television.

Pavel’s comments about further support for Ukraine during his interview on Friday came just days after he met with French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently broached the subject of sending Western troops to Ukraine.

According to Pavel, there must be a clear distinction between deploying combat troops and possibly involving troops in some “support” activities with which NATO already has experience.

“It should be remembered that after the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of part of Donbas, which was essentially an aggression, albeit on a much smaller scale than today, a NATO training mission was operating on Ukrainian territory, which at one time included more than 15 countries and numbered around 1,000 people,” Pavel, the former head of NATO’s Military Committee, recalled.


“From the point of view of international law and the UN Charter, there would be nothing to prevent NATO member states’ troops – as well as civilians, for example – from assisting in the work in Ukraine,” Pavel stressed.

Asked whether he would support the involvement of NATO troops in direct support of Ukraine on its territory, Pavel did not say no.

“I would certainly not reject a debate on this issue. If we could agree with the allies that, for example, instead of training Ukrainian soldiers on the territory of NATO member states and transporting thousands of troops to, say, Poland or the Czech Republic, it would make much more sense to transport a few dozen instructors to Ukrainian territory and train Ukrainian soldiers there,” he said.

He also recalled that after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow said that anyone providing any assistance to Ukraine would be a legitimate target.

“Today, we are not only supplying Ukraine with small arms, we are supplying it with tanks, we may soon supply it with aircraft, we are supplying it with medium-range cruise missiles, and yet there has been no attack on NATO territory. Russia knows full well that this would be a violation of the law of a much greater calibre than what it is doing now,” Pavel said, adding that Russia is aware of NATO’s strength.


According to Pavel, Western allies should have the courage to defend their activities legally, “because helping to train and maintain equipment in a sovereign country is not combat,” he explained.

Pavel made similar comments after meeting Macron a week ago on 5 March.

At a press conference, the two leaders discussed the need to find every possible way to help Ukraine, with Pavel pointing to training Ukrainian troops on the ground as one of the options.

“Even if there is a training mission on its (Ukrainian) territory, it is not a violation of any international rule. And it is up to us what form of assistance we choose to provide to Ukraine, as long as we stay within that limit of non-combat engagement,” the Czech president said.

This makes Pavel one of the few European politicians to support Macron’s discussion of sending troops to Ukraine.


Several EU leaders dismissed Macron’s comments about sending Western troops to Ukraine; Pavel initially showed no support – but if this is not a military action but a support action, as Pavel describes it, support from European countries might be more realistic.

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