Kiev turns to Slovaks



On April 11, intergovernmental consultations were held in Michalovce (Slovakia) near the border with Ukraine. On the Slovak side, the delegation was headed by Prime Minister Robert Fico, and on the Ukrainian side — by his colleague Denys Shmygal. The exchange of views was initiated by Kiev, which was frightened by the real strengthening of Bratislava’s critical front against Ukraine.

A few days before that — on April 7 — Peter Pellegrini, was elected president of Slovakia, who is considered almost a «pro-Russian politician» in the «U-country». He heads (at least until June 15, when he will take office as head of state) the party Voice — Social Democracy (Hlas). It is the main partner in the government coalition of the conservative party Direction — Social Democracy (Smer-SD), whose leader is Fico.

Recall that in 2019, Pellegrini, who was at that time the head of the cabinet, visited Moscow, where he met with then-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

«Russian Federation is one of the most important economic, trade partners for Slovakia, and we see great potential in our economic and trade relations», he said.

Incidentally, Pellegrini’s election to the top post was a point of his secret agreements during the parliamentary elections with Fico, which recently became known to Slovak media. Another important thing is that they are like-minded on key issues of foreign and domestic policy.

However, let’s return to the meeting in Michalovce.

«Slovakia is firmly in favor of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, condemns Russian aggression and stands in solidarity with our European integration aspirations», Shmygal wrote in Telegram.

Fico, for his part, did state that his country «supports Ukraine’s ambitions to become a member of the European Union», and promised to make maximum efforts to reach a «fair peace agreement between Moscow and Kiev» as soon as possible, but emphasized that «Russia’s actions in Ukraine do not violate international law».

In fact, Fico’s position, which during the election campaign mocked anti-Russian sanctions and promised to cut off military aid to Ukraine («we will not supply the Ukrainian armed forces with a single shell»), has undergone some adjustment. He has clearly become more cautious (if not more cunning…) on the European parquet. At the last meeting, Fico reassured his Ukrainian counterpart that Slovakia could use its defense industry and establish military supplies in Kiev’s interests, but only on a commercial basis. Negotiations in this regard may take place not suddenly, but within the next 12 months.

The fact is that a year ago the last government, with the financial support of the European Union, made efforts to expand the capacity of two factories for the production of ammunition of the NATO 155 mm caliber. It was planned to increase production five times at once: from 30,000 to 150,000 shells per year.

This is how their stockpile appeared (according to some sources — about 100 thousand shells). Fico, of course, understands perfectly well that the Kiev regime has no money to buy back the ammunition, but the Czech Republic, for example, can take the excessive batch if it manages to collect donations within the framework of the “shell concession” initiated by it. «Cargo» in this case will go not directly to Ukraine, but to intermediaries. So, formally, Fico will not break his election promises. He’s lying…

In Michalovce, the parties did not agree on Ukrainian agricultural products.

«Slovakia guarantees corridors for its export in the direction of countries that need agricultural goods from Ukraine. On the other hand, I explained to Mr. Prime Minister in a friendly way how important it is for us to protect the interests of Slovak agrarians. Until we find a joint solution, there will be a ban on 14 agricultural goods that we will not allow to be imported from Ukraine», Fico said. The import restriction concerns the following items: wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower seeds, honey, soybeans, barley, flour, bran, cane and beet sugar.

So, what are the main areas of progress? It was decided to develop partnership in the energy sector and trade, and to expand transportation networks. Bratislava promised to join the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine and demining of its territory.

Judging by the results, it is hard to call the intergovernmental consultations a breakthrough. Kiev probably had no such plans. The goal was to start a dialog and prevent further stagnation of bilateral relations. Exactly as it was done recently with regard to Hungary. Before Prime Minister Viktor Orban lifted his veto at the EU summit over the European Commission’s plan to allocate €50 billion in macro-financial aid to Ukraine from the budget for the next four years, the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Hungary met in Uzhgorod, the capital of the Transcarpathian region, where about 100,000 ethnic Hungarians live. Kiev, which initiated the meeting, was not stingy with promises to make life easier for local Magyars. Then it worked…