Ukraine’s CEE allies denounce Russian incursionsReading Time: 2 minutes
United Nations Security Council members condemned Russia’s order to deploy troops to Donetsk and Luhansk after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared them independent, on Monday. Speaking on state television, Putin said “I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR).”
Russia alleges that Ukraine has attacked what it calls “pro-Russian rebel forces” occupying Donetsk and Luhansk – collectively know as the Donbass. Amongst the Visegrad Four member countries, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia were all quick to condemn Putin’s actions, while Hungary was more conciliatory.
The Czech Foreign Ministry called Putin’s declaration “a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty”, similar to Russia’s deployment of troops to Czechoslovakia in 1968, Radio Prague writes. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala expressed his support for Ukraine’s freedom and independence.
Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok meanwhile tweeted that the “Unilateral decision to recognise separatists in Donbass by Russia (is) unacceptable, directly contradicting diplomatic efforts to find solution of conflict in eastern Ukraine.” He added that Slovakia will back Ukraine’s efforts to join the EU and NATO, the Slovak Spectator reported.
Hungary – a NATO member, but also Russia’s closest ally in CEE – was less condemnatory. As Brussels prepared sanctions against Russia on Tuesday morning, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said his country had never broken ranks with the EU on that issue, but “at the same time, we must not give up hope of a diplomatic solution”. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban met Putin for five hours in Moscow on 1 February, as more Russian troops amassed at Ukraine’s border. The Hungarian premier described the visit as “a kind of peace mission”, Daily News Hungary reported.
Poland, as the incumbent chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will address what it calls Russia’s “breach of international law” at an extraordinary meeting on Ukraine, on Tuesday afternoon, Al Jazeera reported.
For his part, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov tweeted: “We continue supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. International law should be upheld.” The European Union will speak in a united voice to defend Ukraine, Petkov added.
Source: Radio Prague, Politico, Sofia Globe, Daily News Hungary, Al Jazeera, Slovak Spectator