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LN: US military convoy to cross Czech territory again

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Prague, July 29 (CTK) – A U.S. military convoy will move across the Czech Republic this year again when it will drive to Brave Warrior, one of the largest exercises of NATO ground forces, to be organised in Hungary in September and October, dailies Lidove noviny (LN) and Pravo write Wednesday.

At the turn of March, U.S. armoured vehicles crossed the Czech Republic during the “Dragoon Ride” to demonstrate support for the allies who felt threatened by the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

“This time the allied troops will spend shorter time on Czech territory and their number will be lower,” Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told Pravo.

Sobotka said be expects Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) to present a report on the issue at the next cabinet meeting. The regional and municipal authorities and the public would receive all the required information well in advance, he told Pravo.

“It will be a standard transfer of troops and equipment to an allied exercise. The details are being discussed with the American side,” Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek told LN.

Magda Dvorakova, the spokeswoman for the General Staff, confirmed this communication. “The September route of the convoy is an issue of joint negotiations,” she told LN.

The definitive route of the convoy needs to be approved by the Czech government.

In March and April, more than 100 U.S. Stryker and Humvee vehicles were returning from an exercise within the Atlantic Resolve operation in the Baltics to their base in Vilseck, Germany, crossing six countries of Eastern and Central Europe, including the Czech Republic.

The Brave Warrior operation is a reaction to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, too, LN writes.

The countries training with the American soldiers are concerned about Russia as a threat to European security, LN quotes U.S. army spokesman Joe Buccino as saying in connection with Brave Warrior.

The spring Dragoon Ride stirred emotions among the Czech public, with both supporters and opponents of the convoy preparing for the event. Though there were groups of protesters, most people warmly welcomed the U.S. troops.

On social networking websites, TOP 09, a Czech opposition conservative party, has already started associating those who would like to welcome or greet the U.S. troops in September, LN writes.

The Communist Party (KSCM), which was against the spring Dragoon Ride, has not commented on the new U.S. convoy yet.

KSCM MP Alexandr Cerny told LN that the U.S. convoy does not seem to plan any events in the Czech Republic and so he would not mind its passing through the country.

“We only don’t like when somebody blocks Czech roads and even declares that this is a demonstration of power,” Cerny said.

In spring, the U.S. convoy divided in three parts, stayed overnight in Czech towns and organised meetings with the public and other events.

In 2014, 131 foreign military convoys crossed the Czech Republic, including 11 U.S. convoys comprising 316 vehicles and 632 troops, LN writes.

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