War Next Door? No Panic
While the world eyes Slovakia’s neighbour Ukraine as it braces for a potential Russian military invasion, all is calm in Slovakia, with the government still holding back from convening its Security Council and making no particular moves in respect of the rapidly unfolding explosive situation across its border.
Speaking at a press conference in the town of Poprad yesterday, Prime Minister Robert Fico emphasised that Slovakia was in favour of a diplomatic resolution to the situation, but that option for Ukraine is becoming ever more distant, with a real chance of a full military conflict in Crimea on the Black Sea.
A key issue concerning Slovakia is the supply of gas from Russia via Ukraine, something Russia has used as leverage before. Even so, Slovakia now has the option of reverse flow of gas from the west and it has sufficient underground supplies to last five months, according to PM Fico.
On the subject of whether Slovakia could handle an influx of refugees, the prime minister said it could handle about a thousand right now, and tens of thousands subject to the support of the European Union.
Russia’s Black Sea fleet reportedly issued a deadline of 3 a.m. (GMT) for Crimea to be surrendered or it would send in the troops, according to the AP, but Moscow has refuted this. The Russian invasion has met with widespread international condemnation and the UN Security Council is now entering its third Emergency session on the conflict. Crimea looks set to be taken over by Russia, but its ambitions may be more expansive, with east Ukraine predominantly Russian speaking.