Spain will temporarily replace the Czech Republic in the command of the multinational NATO battle group in Slovakia. This was stated by Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) after today’s meeting with her Slovak counterpart Robert Kaliňák in Prague. During Kaliňák’s first official visit abroad after taking office, they also discussed industrial cooperation and the continuation of the protection of Slovak airspace.
The multinational NATO battlegroup in Leštų was created in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It currently has around 1,100 soldiers, about 450 of whom are Czechs. In addition to Czechs and Slovaks, Germans, Americans and Slovenians also work in it. “The Czech Republic already announced before the minister took office that there was an option that Spain would be the commanding country for part of next year. Slovakia has no problem with that,” said Černochová.
According to her, the Czech Republic will still have a strong presence in the group. The need to rearm the heavy brigade leads him to the decision. According to the minister, the Czech Republic wants to “buy time” by having another country temporarily take over the responsibility in Poland. At the same time, however, he expects to ask the Parliament for an extension of his mandate next summer. “Until then, we will negotiate with the Spaniards regarding the specific numbers of our and their soldiers,” Černochová added.
Kaliňák thanked for the Czech presence. “It will be taken over by Spain for a certain period in the summer of next year, but the cooperation will remain very strong, and we would all like it to be like this in the future,” he said.
The Czech Republic, together with other V4 countries, ensures the protection of Slovak airspace until the country receives the new F-16. According to the ministers, the cooperation could be extended until the country actually receives the planes. “If Slovakia is interested in extending cooperation in the next period, we are ready to continue cooperation with Slovakia and other countries in airspace surveillance,” said the minister. Kaliňák appreciated the approach, according to him, the fighters should arrive next year, however, delays are common with similar contracts.