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Slovak citizens raise $1.6 million for Czech ammunition initiative after government refuses to contribute

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 18, 2024 6:48 PM 2 min read
Unfinished shells wait to be prepared for painting at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant on April 12, 2023. (Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Slovak citizens have raised over $1.6 million in three days for the Czech ammunition initiative after Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico refused to contribute to the campaign to aid Ukraine.

The initiative was founded in February when Czech President Petr Pavel said that Prague had identified 500,000 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm shells outside of Europe that could be bought and sent to Ukraine if provided with the necessary funding.  

Ukrainian forces are facing a critical ammunition shortage, with Russia currently firing shells at a ratio of around 10:1, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 16.

Since then, a number of countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Poland, France, Denmark, and Slovenia, have contributed funds to the initiative.

The organizers of the Slovak fundraising campaign said that they "refuse to accept" that their government did not join the initiative.

"Let's show that it's not just them who decide. We are convinced that the attitude of the government does not represent the majority of citizens. We are sure that we, the inhabitants of Slovakia, want and know how to help," the fundraising campaign's website says.  

Over 23,000 people have donated to the campaign so far, one of whom is former foreign minister Ivan Korcok, who lost to Fico's ally Peter Pellegrini in Slovakia's presidential election on April 6.  

"Supporting Ukraine is not prolonging the war, it is supporting the existence of a neighbor," Korcok wrote on Facebook, describing it as "sad" that the current government does not offer more support to Kyiv.

Environment Minister Tomas Taraba reportely responded with hostility when journalists asked him whether he would contribute to the fundraising campaign.

The minister said the reporters should "go to Ukraine" and take up arms themselves or sell their property and contribute to the fundraiser, according to the news outlet Euractiv.  

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala reported on April 15 that the first 180,000 ammunition rounds for Ukraine have already been contracted as part of the initiative and will be sent to the front line in the coming months.

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