EU nation’s government split on Ukraine aid
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova has responded to the latest Russian airstrikes against Ukraine by calling for giving more arms to Kiev, contradicting the policy of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government in Bratislava.
“Another new year, another atrocity,” Caputova said on Tuesday in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Russia has fired a record number of missiles and drones at Ukraine’s cities and towns to terrorize peaceful civilians. The best way to ensure Moscow’s aggression does not continue into another year is to provide Ukraine with the means needed to defend itself.”
Slovakia halted its military aid to Ukraine after Fico’s Slovak Social Democracy (SMER-SD) party won the country’s parliamentary election in September. Although she had been supportive of Ukraine aid, Caputova refused in early October – while Fico’s coalition government was being put together – to allow a caretaker regime in Bratislava to send more weapons to Kiev in the interim.
The president in Slovakia’s system of government has a limited role in making policy, as the post is largely ceremonial. Caputova, Slovakia’s first female president, said last June that she wouldn’t seek reelection in 2024. Fico has labeled her an “American agent,” and she claimed to have received death threats in late 2022.
Fico has sworn off Slovakia’s military aid to Ukraine, including a package previously approved by the caretaker government, and has pushed for a negotiated peace deal to end the bloodshed in the former Soviet republic. He also suggested that the EU transform itself from “an arms supplier to a peacemaker,” and he argued in a December newspaper interview that no amount of Western weaponry would enable Ukraine to defeat Russia.
Western nations have tried to use Ukraine to destroy Russia militarily and economically, Fico said in the interview. “This plan can never work. It is an absolute misunderstanding of reality and the real position of the Russian Federation.”
Russian leaders have repeatedly warned that shipments of Western weapons to Ukraine are only prolonging the conflict – causing more casualties and raising the risk of a wider crisis – without having any possibility of changing the outcome.
Russia has ramped up missile and drone strikes in recent days, targeting defense industry and weapons depots in the Kiev area and other cities. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that the airstrikes would intensify in retaliation for Ukraine’s “terrorist” attacks on the Russian city of Belgorod.