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Fico speaks out against military aid to Ukraine and anti-Russian sanctions at EU summit

Slovakia’s new Prime Minister Robert Fico spoke out against aid to Ukraine at the European Summit summit in Brussels on October 27.

Fico told EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Slovakia would stop supporting military aid to Kyiv under his leadership. Fico wrote in bold letters on his Facebook page:

 I informed Ursula von der Leyen that Slovakia will, from this day on, have its own opinion in Brussels.

Before traveling to the summit, Fico made a statement that “an immediate cessation of hostilities is the best solution for Ukraine” and that the EU “must transform itself from an arms supplier to a peacemaker.” He also pledged to oppose further sanctions against Russia if they damage Slovakia.

Fico was skeptical of increased economic aid to Ukraine, warning of corruption and saying that ” spending extra money on Ukraine was difficult for him to sell back home.”

Fico, who heads the leftist-populist Smer party, emerged as the clear winner in Slovakia’s general election in September, and was sworn on Wednesday as the head of a coalition government with the rightist-populist SNS party and the social-democratic Hlas party. Stopping arms deliveries to Ukraine — along with resisting further European sanctions against Russia — were among Fico’s top campaign promises.

The EU is discussing plans to provide Ukraine with 50 billion euros in financial aid and up to 20 billion euros in military assistance, with a final agreement only expected towards the end of the year.

Slovakia’s previous center-right governments have been among Ukraine’s strongest supporters, supplying it with heavy weapons such as MiG-29 fighter jets, tanks and S-300 surface-to-air missile systems.

Fico has made it clear he wants to attend the EU summit since his populist Smer party formed a coalition with the center-left Hlas and far-right SNS after an extraordinary vote in Slovakia.

Smer and other populist parties campaigned aggressively on Ukraine, which may have made Slovaks simply tired of the topic, even though the country had previously actively supported it.

Both Smer and Hlas were expelled from the European Group of Socialists for joining a coalition with SNS and for Smer’s stance on Ukraine. Fico, in his video response to the expulsion from PES, called the conflict unleashed by “Ukrainian fascists.”

Fico also said that in a meeting with von der Leyen he “clearly criticized the EC for ignoring the blatant human rights violations and abuse of criminal law against the opposition in Slovakia” and that his office would amend the penal code.

On October 5th the President of Slovakia rejected the new aid package for Ukraine. Zuzana Čaputová believes that ignoring the position of Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party, which won the parliamentary elections, “would set an unfortunate precedent for the future.”

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