‘No air defense, no air force, no money’ – EU state complains after helping Ukraine
Slovakia’s continuous military aid to Ukraine under the previous government has left the country’s own defense posture badly damaged, with “years” now needed to fix it, new Slovak Defense Minister Robert Kalinak has said.
The minister, who assumed office back in October under the new government led by Prime Minister Robert Fico, accused his predecessors of simply surrendering key military hardware to Ukraine without coming up with any plan to secure their replacements. The defense ministry has effectively been run by “people with qualities of pugs rather than wolves,” Kalinak told the Standard newspaper on Thursday.
“The former government left us without our own anti-aircraft defenses, without combat aviation, and we don’t even have the promised 700 million for MiGs, which the government also handed over to Ukraine,” Kalinak stated.
Now, the country is seeking to negotiate with its “partners” to ensure that “Slovakia’s air defense will be provided by NATO allies,” he said. The country is now risking being left without any air defenses, with the US Patriot anti-aircraft systems withdrawn from its soil late in 2023, while hosting the Italian SAMP/T systems may also end this year, Kalinak warned.
It will likely now take “years” to fix the damage done to the country’s security, the minister said, squarely blaming the situation on his predecessors. For instance, the new government will unlikely be able to come up with a replacement for S-300 anti-aircraft systems during its tenure. “Maybe towards the end of the term of office, but I only hope so,” he said.
“It was absurd overwork by [then-Defense Minister Jaroslav] Naď and his people at the ministry. After all, we were not the only allies who had the S-300, which Ukraine was interested in. Why didn’t the Greeks give it? Why didn’t the Bulgarians give it? These were outrageous decisions by Naď and [then-PM Eduard] Heger, which have no parallel in any sovereign country,” Kalinak stated.
Following his party’s electoral victory in September, Fico immediately halted the country’s military aid to Kiev, as well as pledged to block Ukraine’s potential accession into the US-led NATO bloc. The new PM has repeatedly criticized the Western approach to handling the Ukraine conflict, arguing that the enduring support of Kiev turned into a “futile waste of human resources and money,” which only prolongs the hostilities and fills Ukrainian cemeteries with “thousands of dead soldiers.”
“I will no longer be subject to stupid liberal and progressive demagoguery. It is literally shocking to see how the West has repeatedly made mistakes in assessing the situation in Russia,” Fico wrote in Slovakia’s Pravda newspaper last week.