Wrecked Russian Tanks In Prague Spark Curiosity
By Juliana Zappitell and Taylor Coester
Captured Russian military equipment showcased in Prague’s Letna park drew dozens of visitors on Tuesday during the first full day of an exhibit arranged by Ukraine’s government to keep the spotlight on their fight against Moscow.
The exhibit, featuring damaged tanks, trucks and other equipment used by Russian forces following the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, underlines how Kyiv has sought to whip up support for their fight and request for more assistance and weapons from western nations.
“Be brave like Ukraine. And do not forget that even after 139 days after the beginning of the Russian invasion the fights still do not ease. That is just the reason for the exhibition of destroyed and captured vehicles of the Russians,” Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said in a Facebook post.
Five tanks captured by Ukrainian forces — including one damaged in battle and weighing 46.5 tonnes — lined the gravel ground of the park filled with locals riding bikes, walking their dogs and relaxing on the grass.
The exhibition was previously displayed in the Castle Square in Warsaw, Poland, and will remain in Prague until July 24th.
“The destroyed equipment is a hope for us, that the undestroyed ones will not get to us,” said Mayor of Prague 7, Jan Čižinský.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought back memories for many Czechs who recall the history of Russian tanks rumbling into Prague in the crackdown of the 1968 Prague Spring.
Jiří Čáslava, and his father, František, 76, expressed anger that Russia invade a country like Ukraine for leaning toward the west.
“We don’t understand how in 2022 there can be a nation who will start a war like this and destroy towns, houses, hospitals and try to conquer land by force,” Jiří said.
Other visitors said the exhibition brought closer to home what is happening in Ukraine and that it is important for Czechs to support a nation like Ukraine aspiring to join the European Union and forge closer ties to the west.
“People can see what’s actually happening in Ukraine. It’s not some fiction. It’s real,” Vojtěch Vančura said.
The original version of the story was published by Prague Morning on July 15, 2022.