Brussels – Prime Minister Janez Janša expressed “full support for EU efforts for de-escalation” after EU leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine at an informal meeting on Thursday. “Further escalation of conflict and tensions will not produce winners, just losers.”
Janša said the prevailing opinion at the meeting was to monitor the situation and react “based on principles on which we in the EU operate, and based on all the commitments that the individual sides have adopted so far.”
He expressed regret at Russian President Vladimir Putin “often being a step ahead” and said it had taken until the last few weeks for the West to achieve great unity, making it harder for Putin to continue playing this game.
“We’ve seen a lot of actions and efforts in the recent weeks and it seems to me that this is the first time the EU’s real strength is coming to the surface. The 27 member states are not perfectly unanimous on this issue, but we are more unanimous than at any time in recent history.”
Janša also downplayed recent Russian troop movements away from Ukraine, noting that “nothing dramatic has happened lately.” “Russia relocating its troops a few hundred kilometres left or right does not mean anything, this can change overnight.”
Russia’s long-term goal is attrition of Ukraine and “ultimately the erasure of Ukraine as a sovereign, independent country.” However, it is in the EU’s strategic interest that Ukraine remain independent. “The battle for Europe is fought in Ukraine,” he said.
As for possible sanctions against Russia, Janša said the EU Commission was making preparations for sanctions and conducting broader talks with other players, not just the US.
Sanctions in areas such as technology, in particular dual use technology, are currently being considered.
While saying that the bulk of Slovenia’s trade with Russia would not be affected by that, Janša said if the situation escalated further “we’ll all suffer losses, we’re all going to be losers.”