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8 Nov, 2023 14:10

EU state’s new government blocks Ukraine weapons package

Bratislava has stopped the flow of donated weapons to Kiev, but won’t ban commercial supplies
EU state’s new government blocks Ukraine weapons package

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico rejected on Wednesday a proposal to send €40.3 million ($43 million) worth of military equipment to Ukraine – a deal that was put into the pipeline by the previous government of the EU nation.

The aid package, which would have been the 14th for the country since the onset of the Ukraine conflict last year, included eight mortars and a significant amount of munitions. Fico’s decision was “expected,” according to local media outlets, since he campaigned on a promise to stop military assistance to Kiev in favor of defending national interests.

“The Slovak government will help Ukraine humanitarianly, not militarily. We want peace, not war,” Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok pledged on social media on Wednesday.

Despite the pro-peace sentiment, however, Slovakia will still allow the commercial sale of weapons to Ukraine.

“If a company wants to manufacture weapons and deliver those, then we won’t prevent this, of course,” Fico said on Monday, following a meeting with newly-appointed Defense Minister Robert Kalinak.

Bratislava’s previous government was a staunch supporter of Kiev in its fight against Moscow, having provided €671 million ($716 million) worth of weapons, according to the defense ministry.

A large portion of the sum accounts for decommissioned MiG-29 fighter jets and the 2K12 Kub air defense system. Both are Soviet-made weapons that Slovakia donated as part of a military upgrade to NATO-standard hardware.

Kalinak said he wanted to review some of the arms contracts fulfilled under the previous leadership.
Slovakia had signed a deal to produce 16 155 mm SpGH Zuzana 2 howitzers for Ukraine, which was paid for by other donors of Kiev, including Denmark, Norway, and Germany, according to the media.

Fico leads a three-party coalition government, which was appointed in late October. It is his fourth term at the country’s helm. He previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018.