Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša has warned of a domino effect if Ukraine falls, noting in an interview that the country’s fate was instrumental not just for Europe but the world as a whole. He thinks now is the time for Europe to wean itself of its energy dependence on Russia.
“If Ukraine falls, Moldova is next, and then probably Georgia. Things could be cooked up in Western Balkans – everywhere where the EU’s periphery is not in the [European] Union yet and in NATO. Then Baltic countries will almost certainly be next in line, and then we’re on the verge of a severe conflict that could cause World War Three,” he said in an interview for Siol, Nova24 and Planet TV published on Sunday.
“Whether Ukraine defends itself or not is important for Slovenia, Europe and the entire world. If Ukraine perseveres, we can count on there being not an escalation but negotiations,” he said.
Janša also said that ever since the “Afghanistan debacle”, Beijing and Moscow have been coordinating some moves. He is convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin would not invade Ukraine without some sort of tacit support from Beijing, which has refrained from condemning the Russian aggression at the UN Security Council.
“I think this is the first time since it has been a member of the Security Council that it has taken Russia’s side by condemning sanctions against Russia and not the invasion. This is not a neutral policy.”
Similarly, the two countries appear to have stepped up military cooperation in the last ten years. “The development of hypersonic rockets, which have upended the dominance of the West and the United States, is obviously a joint project by Russia and China. We should not be surprised if Taiwan is the next target.”
Taiwan accounts for half of global semiconductor output and if China “secures dominance of this production, we are in for a few difficult years. We’ll probably be searching in our drawers for old smartphones because there will be no new ones.”
As for the impact of sanctions, Janša said Slovenia’s and Europe’s dependence on Russian energy was “a strategic problem” but noted that by invading Ukraine, Putin has finally prodded Europe into liberating itself of its energy dependence on Russia.
Invading Ukraine was “a huge mistake by Putin”. Slovenia and Europe will have problems for several years transitioning away from Russian energy, but Russia will have lost a huge market.
He also said other countries were more exposed to Russia’s economy than Slovenia. “Some countries are 100% dependent on supplies of Russian gas, some on oil supplies, and some even on Russian coal.” Germany’s decision to freeze the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is “ten times more painful that what Slovenia could lose due to sanctions.”
The EU will thus pay a high price “but the price for the Russian nation will be horrible.” “It is in the interest of the Russians that they pick a new leader as soon as possible, one who does not a threat to others or to the future of his own nation.”