Slovenia condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Ljubljana – Slovenia has strongly condemned Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and PM Janez Janša has proposed that the EU should promptly give Ukraine the prospect of full EU membership. The government discussed the situation behind closed doors to assess risks for Slovenia, and the Ukrainian flag is flying on Government Palace in Ljubljana.

Janša said the attack was unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine and President Borut Pahor called it a grave violation of international law and UN principles of peaceful resolution of disputes.

Janša said that “Russia must immediately withdraw its military and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity”, while Pahor called on President Vladimir Putin to immediately terminate the hostilities, suspend the use of military force and give diplomacy a chance.

Already on Wednesday, Janša and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki called for Ukraine’s EU accession by 2030 in a letter to European Council President Charles Michel and their EU counterparts before tonight’s emergency EU summit on Ukraine.

The letter has been endorsed by several EU leaders, and Janša said at today’s news conference in Ljubljana they would try to convince EU enlargement sceptics that “the geostrategic situation is different now … and that we need brave decisions”.

Wearing a blue-yellow tie in the colours of Ukrainian flag in support of Ukraine, he stressed that “history over the past two decades has taught us that if the EU doesn’t expand, if the space of freedom and democracy doesn’t expand, somebody else does”.

After Russia started the attack this morning, Janša spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Denis Shmygal over the phone, with Shmygal saying the goal of Russian’s attack was to install a pro-Russian puppet government.

Janša was scheduled to visit Kyiv today and tomorrow, but the visit has been postponed to a later date due to the EU summit and the security situation.

Turning to sanctions against Russia that have already been adopted and those that are being prepared, Janša said they will severely hurt Russia.

He also said the unity at the level of EU and NATO was unprecedented, adding “a decision is maturing in the EU that we have to become independent of Russian energy”.

What is more, “one has also realised that in such times we need a real military power to be able to protect the area of democracy and freedom within the EU and NATO”.

Assessing the level of direct threat the Ukraine crisis poses to Slovenia, the government said there is no direct threat for military clashes here, while there is a chance of cyber attacks.

Slovenia is in talks with Slovakia to deploy up to 50 troops there to help enhance military presence in the country which borders Ukraine. It already has some 50 troops in Latvia.

Unanimously condemning the invasion, Slovenian political parties have urged an end to military activities to give way to diplomacy.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) called for a cross-party meeting and the National Security Council to meet to adopt Slovenia’s united response.

Ukraine on the other hand thanked Slovenia for its support and assistance. In a press statement, Natalia Markevich, charge d’affaires at the Ukrainian embassy in Ljubljana, pointed to the need for the world and Europe to muster “a united and strong response to Russia’s aggression”.

Denis Mancevič, a former Slovenian diplomat serving in Moscow, assessed for the STA that Putin had started a war that he would not be able to win in the long run. He believes the war in Ukraine could also prove to be fateful for Putin’s presidency and future existence of the Russian Federation.

Analyst Iztok Prezelj said that “one of the worst possible scenarios has happened”, adding that experts might have underestimated “the indicator of Crimea invasion”. He said that Russia is in a very bad economic situation and cannot afford long-term military conflicts with the West.

Condemnation of “a brutal military assault on Ukraine by Russian and Belarusian military forces” and expressions of solidarity with the people of Ukraine also came from the international writers’ association PEN International and its Slovenian chapter PEN Slovenia, which urged Putin to stop the war.

Janša meanwhile recalled that 30 years ago, Slovenia was in a similar situation. “We know how the Ukrainians feel, so our expressions of solidarity come from the heart.”