New Slovak premier says he won’t prevent commercial arms exports to Ukraine

New Slovak premier says he won’t prevent commercial arms exports to Ukraine
The previous Slovak government donated a S-300 anti-aircraft system to Ukraine. / bne IntelliNews
By Albin Sybera November 7, 2023

New Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has confirmed that his cabinet won’t prevent companies from manufacturing and delivering military materiel to Ukraine.

“If a company wants to manufacture weapons and deliver those, then we won’t prevent this, of course,” the leader of the populist leftist Smer party said at a press conference following his meeting with the new Minister of Defence  Robert Kalinak on  October 6.  

Smer fought an aggressive campaign during which it called for an end to Slovak military support for Ukraine, and party leaders also adopted Kremlin propaganda, blaming “Ukrainian fascists” for the start of the war in 2014.

Smer and its breakaway party, centre-left Hlas, were both suspended from the European grouping of Socialists for forming a coalition with the far-right SNS, and Smer was also censured for its Ukraine policy.

Despite being a small country, Slovakia has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest backers, largely giving up its heavy weapons, including Mig-29 fighter jets, T-72 tanks, artillery and anti-air defence systems, in favour of Ukraine to thwart the Russian full-scale invasion launched last February. Little surplus military supplies are now left to be donated to Ukraine.

Fico has said his policy towards Russia and Ukraine will be driven by Slovak national interests. He is therefore backing Slovak commercial exports to Ukraine. Many Slovak analysts had predicted that the Smer party won’t extend its anti-Ukrainian rhetoric to the country’s weapon industry.

“I expect them to be very open towards CSG” [Czech-based Czechoslovak Group], a reporter following the country’s weapon and ammunition industry at DennikN, Vladimir Snidl, told bne Intellinews.

CSG is a key ammunition producer in Slovakia through its branches ZVS Holding and VOP Novaky.

Fico said Slovakia could also help Ukraine with de-mining its territory.

“One of the things which Ukraine could be helped with is de-mining. I consider this a humanitarian aid. There is a huge amount of mined areas and un-exploded ammunition,” Fico told journalists.

Fico toured most of the new ministers on Monday, and he also called on the new culture minister,  Martina Simkovicova, a well-known presenter at the disinformation TV Slovan, to pay increased attention to Slovak history.

He urged the SNS-nominated Simkovicova to “pay attention to Great Moravia” – an early medieval Slavonic powerhouse located in present-day Slovakia, Austria and Czechia – and said that saints Cyril and Methodius did not arrive in Slovakia with gender ideology”.

The Thessaloniki preachers arrived in Great Moravia in the 9th century and are venerated by the Catholic Church for bringing Christianity to Slovakia and other countries and for translating the Bible into a Slavonic dialect.

Former communist Fico also called on the “spirit” to be reinvigorated in Slovak culture, while Simkovicova said that “respecting Slovak culture does not mean mixing of Slovak culture with other cultures”.


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