Prague, April 1 (CTK) The first part of the U.S. military convoy left the barracks in Prague Ruzyne at 5:30, the other two parts followed in one hour intervals today, heading for the Rozvadov, west Bohemia, border crossing with Germany.
The last part of the convoy left at 7:43.
It is to cross the border before noon. The troops will then continue to the Vilseck military base in Bavaria.
The convoy was accompanied by the police. Two Gripen supersonic fighters were to accompany the last part, fro a few minutes between 9:009:20, but they did not take off due to strong wind, General Staff spokesman Jan Sulc told CTK.
Some 500 soldiers on around 115 armoured vehicles are crossing the Czech Republic during the “ Ride” to demonstrate support for the allies’ territories that feel threatened by the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
They are returning from an exercise within the Atlantic Resolve operation in the Baltics to their base in Germany, crossing six countries of Eastern and Central Europe, including the Czech Republic.
Thousands of people welcomed the U.S. troops along the route. Up to 20,000 people came to see the convoy’s equipment at the Ruzyne barracks, while only few opponents protested against the American troops’ presence.
The soldiers spent Tuesday in Prague where two concerts were staged for them. Some of them left for Plzen, west Bohemia, to pay homage to the U.S. soldiers who died during the liberation of the western part of Czechoslovakia in May 1945.
The convoy will cross Plzen today. It plans only one technical stop to check the vehicles and possibly refuel, Sulc told CTK.
The troops will not stop near Rokycany, west Bohemia, where the demarcation line was at the end of WWII on which the U.S. army stopped during the liberation on the basis of an agreement with theSoviet Union.
Hundreds of people with both U.S. and Czech flags were waving at the convoy in west Bohemia and its capital of Plzen. They were standing mainly on bridges and footbridges above the D5 motorway from Prague to Plzen.
People were taking pictures of and recording the U.S. vehicles. Some fans arrived in American Jeeps from WWII. They also carried a dummy of the Statue of Liberty.
A symbolical barricade is to be erected in Rozvadov by which its authors want to express that they wish the permanent presence of the U.S. military in the Czech Republic.