Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa called on the EU to offer a full membership perspective to Ukraine on February 22, as he joined most of Southeast Europe’s governments in condemning Russia's recognition of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as independent territories.
This came one day after the situation in Ukraine worsened as Russia formally recognised the breakaway republics of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent from Ukraine. Russia swiftly followed the declaration by moving what it termed ‘peacekeepers’ into Ukraine.
Jansa said in a tweet that the recognition of the two separatist territories by Russia is an illegal move, while the Slovenian defence ministry said that Ljubljana is ready to support Ukraine's EU membership.
The other Nato members in the region were also quick to condemn Russia’s actions towards Ukraine, as was Kosovo, while both Serbia and the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska say they are staying neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called the action a “a flagrant violation of Ukraine's international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He called on the international community to "firmly, immediately and unequivocally sanction this irresponsible decision of Russia.”
“Bulgaria condemns the decision of the Russian president to recognise Donetsk and Lugansk areas for independent. We support the territorial integrity of Ukraine in its internationally recognised borders,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov wrote on Twitter. President Rumen Radev warned that the recognition of the two breakaway republics “dooms the efforts for de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and leads to rising tension throughout the whole region”.
Croatian government officials issued similar statements, while President Zoran Milanovic, who has made several controversial statements in defence of Russia and against Ukraine’s membership in Nato, has not yet commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move.
Other states in the region including Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia also condemned Russia’s actions as did Bosniak and Croat politicians in Bosnia.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Belgrade is “under pressure” to join western sanctions, but reiterated Serbia’s position of neutrality in the conflict. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik also said Bosnia should be neutral and criticised fellow members of the country’s tripartite presidency for their positions.