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Slovakia and its military support to Ukraine

By Felix Gregg

Slovakia is one of the very few European countries that share a land border with Ukraine, so their support to Ukraine might be crucial. With Hungary infamously blocking the transport of military equipment through their country and the never ending partial blockades on the Polish border, Slovakia might be even more important. So let’s look at where Slovakia stands when it comes to aid to Ukraine and what is the current political situation. 

Beginning of the war

When the full scale invasion started, Slovakia’s prime minister was Eduard Heger. Later, in May 2023, he was replaced by Ľudovít Ódor, who was in charge of a so-called caretaker government. Ľudovít Ódor was hand-picked by then-President Čaputová.

Even though the situation with local politics was very turbulent and often confusing, Slovakia still joined their western allies and provided military and humanitarian help to Ukraine. Namely the 13 old MiG-29 - they were barely functional and not used for years, many had to be actually transported by trucks, but let’s not bring that up. 

Slovakia also sent the Soviet air defense system S-300, some other equipment and 10’s of millions of euros. Due to its location there was also a huge stream of refugees fleeing Ukraine that went to Slovakia. Through Slovakia I should say - most of them went further west to Czechia, Germany and other countries. At the beginning the government didn’t react fast enough, but there were many NGOs helping day and night at the border, cooking food for the refugees and giving them items of basic need. 

The situation was somewhat positive in 2022. Then-president Čaputová repeatedly said that the only way to restore peace is bigger and faster support of Ukraine. Even though she might not have much direct power over the aid, she publicly supported Ukraine over and over again. She was clearly in direct opposition with what was about to come…

New elections

The big shift in both rhetoric and actual actions happened between the end of 2023 and spring of 2024. In October, Robert Fico became the new PM. He was very clear about his intentions during the elections. He will not give any more military support to Ukraine and he repeatedly denied how bad the situation is in some places in western Ukraine, infamously saying “there is no war in Kyiv”. 

He has tried to play it on both sides for years, but his rhetoric is getting more and more extreme in the last months. When he meets his western allies behind the closed door, he always reassures them and they mostly seem to believe it. Once he is campaigning on the squares or talking in TV interviews he is not ashamed to say that president Zelenskyy “lies every day” and that “there are fascists fighting in the Ukrainian army”. Fico would do or say literally anything to get voted back in, after he lost his grip on power after numerous scandals. 

Then April of 2024 came and with it the presidential elections, which was won by Fico’s right-hand Peter Pellegrini. He was described by both Ukrainian and Western media as either pro-Russian or Russia-friendly. And that was it. All military aid from the government of Slovakia had officially ended. For now, and probably for the next few years, since Fico should be a PM until 2027. Pellegrini sometimes reassures the public about “belonging to the west”, but these are just empty words. 

People take the lead

I like to finish on a positive note. That might be hard when talking about the current situation in Slovakia, but I can try. Even though Fico and Pellegrini steamrolled their way into power, many people were not and are not happy with the current political situation and with the way their country is heading to. Protests against the current pro-Russian PM are happening regularly and they are attended by thousands of people all over the country. 

Also, many people recently decided that if the government will not help their eastern neighbor, they will. The government said they will not join Czechia’s effort to get enough money to purchase 800 thousand artillery shells to Ukraine, so Slovaks started fundraising themselves. And it worked pretty well. People sent almost 3 million euros in just a few days. Honestly it is just a drop in the bucket, since the whole purchase led by Czechia is in 100’s of millions euros, but it is still a great way to show that everybody can help. 

People from all over Europe fundraised hundreds of millions of euros over the last two years for military aid to Ukraine and Slovakia is now joining them with their own big campaign. We will see how far the fundraiser will go. So far less than one percent of the population joined in, but the fundraiser is going on for only 5 days, so that is still a pretty amazing number of people.


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