Slovakia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Robert Fico will not back further military aid for Ukraine nor support further sanctions against Russia at his first European Union summit, Slovak media cited him as saying on Thursday.
Slovakia’s government office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Fico campaigned heavily in a September election on pledges to halt Slovakia’s military aid to Ukraine, make foreign policy independent, and protect borders from illegal migrants.
European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday to grapple with the conflict between Israel and Hamas while also aiming to show continuing support for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion.
The EU and its member countries have provided billions of euros in assistance to Ukraine since Russian forces invaded in February last year.
But some officials and diplomats have voiced fears that Ukraine may now struggle to get the same political attention and resources from the West, particularly the United States, due to the new crisis in the Middle East.
The EU’s two-day summit will not be able to sign off on multi-year plans for 50 billion euros in financial aid and up to 20 billion euros in military aid for Ukraine, as they are part of a broader budget battle that officials hope to conclude by year’s end.
Before heading to Brussels on Thursday, Fico, a three-time prime minister last in power in 2018, and appointed for a fourth time as prime minister on Wednesday, told a parliamentary committee he would not support military aid for Ukraine, according to Slovak news website Dennik N.
“We all see there is no military solution,” Fico was quoted as saying.
On sanctions against Russia, Fico said he would not vote for any new measures until he assessed their impact on Slovakia, Dennik N and and the Pravda newspapers’s website reported.
Fico has pledged repeatedly to halt military aid for Ukraine, after previous Slovak governments shipped military hardware including fighter jets, an S-300 air defence system, and fighting and de-mining vehicles to Ukraine.
He has said he supports humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, and backed peace talks for Ukraine as it battles Russia’s invasion – a line similar to that of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban but rejected by Kyiv and its Western allies, who say this would only encourage Russian aggression.