Croatian PM apologises to Ukrainians for 'nonsense'
A series of explosive claims from Croatia’s president that Zagreb would pull its soldiers out of NATO deployments in Eastern Europe in the event of a full-blown conflict with Russia are nothing but hot air, the country’s prime minister has blasted.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Andrey Plenkovic poured scorn on the remarks made earlier this week by Zoran Milanovic and attempted to defuse the situation.
“Given the fact none of our troops are in Ukraine, and the contingent stationed in Poland has already returned, I do not know what kind of military personnel the president is thinking about withdrawing,” he hit back.
Plenkovic went on, adding that his statements are not in line with the views of the government. “I apologize to Ukrainians for such nonsense,” he said.
Plenkovic’s remarks follow shortly after Milanovic insisted in a televised address that Croatian troops in NATO contingents stationed in the region would play no part if tensions snowballed into fighting in the former Soviet republic.
“Not only will we not send the military, but if there is an escalation, we will recall every last Croatian military man,” he vowed, also taking aim at US President Joe Biden.
“This has nothing to do with Ukraine or Russia, it has to do with the dynamics of American domestic politics, [US President] Joe Biden and his administration, which I supported.”
Milanovic’s remarks earned him a place on a Kiev-based ‘Peacemaker’ database for alleged “anti-Ukrainian activity,” as well as spreading “Kremlin propaganda” and justifying “Russian aggression.”
His statements also came under fire from Zagreb’s ambassador to Kiev, Anica Jamic, who said that the president “showed a disdainful and ungrateful attitude for the help that Ukraine and Ukrainians gave to Croatia during its struggle for independence, as well as in fighting the devastating fires last year.”
Milanovic’s comments come amid high tensions between Moscow and Kiev, with a number of Western leaders sounding the alarm in recent weeks over a purported buildup of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine. On Monday, the US-led military bloc announced that its members will order more fleets and fighter planes into Eastern Europe as Russia “continues its military build-up” amid the growing row.
Moscow has repeatedly rejected having any plan for a military offensive, and has called such accusations “groundless and wrong.” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov previously said that the movement of the country’s armed forces on its own territory is an internal matter and of no concern to anyone else.