Prague, JAN 26 /DNA/ – The Czech defence ministry said Wednesday it would donate four thousand artillery shells to Ukraine in the coming days as the country faces the threat of invasion by neighbouring Russia.

“The gift worth 36.6 million Czech crowns (1.5 million euros, $1.7 million) was approved by the government today,” defence ministry spokesman Jakub Fajnor told AFP.

The gift comprises 4,006 shells with a calibre of 152 millimetres, the defence ministry said on its website.

“The shells will be shipped to Ukraine in the coming days but I cannot say exactly when,” Fajnor said.

Kyiv and the West have accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border in preparation for a possible invasion.

Defence Minister Jana Cernochova said the gift was “a gesture of solidarity”.

“We have been developing cooperation with Ukraine in the long run and we support its transition to democracy,” she added.

The 152-millimetre calibre is not compatible with new cannons obtained by the Czech army, which have a calibre of 155 millimetres, the ministry said.

The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999. “Boosting Ukraine’s ability to defend itself is in the interest of the Czech Republic, because it will reduce the risk of an armed conflict in eastern Europe,” the ministry added.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said Tuesday he would visit Ukraine together with his Austrian and Slovak counterparts on February 7-8 in another display of solidarity.