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European allies give Zelensky double trouble

For Ukraine’s president, a growing problem in Central Europe looms on the horizon as populist leaders, including Slovakia’s newly elected prime minister, oppose European Union and NATO military aid to Kyiv.

Slovakia’s new Prime Minister, Robert Fico, said on Thursday that Slovakia was cutting off military aid to Ukraine. Fico follows campaign promises to seek talks with Russia and an immediate end to the war in Ukraine. He said:

“I will support zero military aid to Ukraine. An immediate halt to military operations is the best solution we have for Ukraine. The EU should change from an arms supplier to a peacemaker.”

Fico believes that sanctions against Russia primarily harm Bratislava, so he will oppose them. He noted:

“I will not vote for any sanctions against Russia, unless we see analyses of their impact on Slovakia. If there are to be such sanctions that will harm us, like most sanctions have, I can see no reason to support them.”

Fico’s rise to power has increased the likelihood that Slovakia will join Hungary and its Prime Minister Viktor Orban in opposing the continuation of EU sanctions against Moscow.

Slovakia is one of the smallest countries in NATO and the EU, but its voice in both blocs gives it influence over alliance decision-making. Even one country – Hungary – has provoked significant disagreements in the two structures, and now EU-NATO officials may face a double challenge.

Oleksandr Merezhko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and the chair of the body’s foreign affairs committee, told Newsweek that Fico’s announcement “is not a pleasant development, and we might be dealing with a ‘mini-Orban.’ He added:

“But Slovakia was not the biggest provider of aid to Ukraine anyway. At the same time, I hope that Slovakia’s democratic opposition is strong enough not to let Fico turn this country into Hungary.”

Despite its relatively small size, Slovakia had been providing significant military assistance to Ukraine prior to Fico’s arrival. Ammunition, armoured vehicles, artillery pieces and even fighter jets have flowed from Bratislava to the east since February 2022, and former defence minister Jaroslav Nad said the arms deliveries were “the right decision”.

Giving a comment on Thursday when asked about Fico’s decision, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:

“Slovakia did not have such a big share in the supply of weapons, so it will hardly affect the entire process.”


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