Prague, October 1
Slovakia's pro-Russian and anti-liberal election winner Robert Fico was poised on Sunday to begin coalition talks to form a government likely to join Hungary in opposing the European Union's military aid for Ukraine.
The 59-year-old former prime minister's SMER-SSD party scored nearly 23 per cent of Saturday's parliamentary poll, earning the President's nod to start talks to replace a technocrat government that has been backing Kyiv against Russia's invasion.
“We are not changing that we are prepared to help Ukraine in a humanitarian way,” said Fico, whom analysts consider to be inspired by Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban who has frequently clashed with the EU. “We are prepared to help with the reconstruction of the state but you know our opinion on arming Ukraine,” he added at a news conference. Fico's campaign call of "Not a single round" for neighbouring Ukraine resonated in the nation of 5.5 million.
Slovakia is a member of the NATO military alliance, which is backing Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin, but many of its people are sympathetic to Moscow's line that the West wants to annihilate it. Fico said Slovakia has bigger problems than the Ukraine issue, including energy prices and living costs, but his party would do everything possible to start peace talks. Sloviakia's liberal Progresivne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia, PS) party came second in Saturday's vote with almost 18 per cent of votes and wants to stay the course on backing Ukraine. So Fico may well look to the moderate leftist HLAS (Voice) party, which came third with nearly 15% of votes, as a partner along with the nationalist, pro-Russian Slovak National Party. He said coalition talks could take two weeks.
A Fico-led government would signal a further shift in central Europe against political liberalism, which would be reinforced if the ruling conservative Law and Justice wins an election in Poland later this month. Hungary's Orban congratulated Fico on Sunday with a post on X social media platform saying: "Guess who's back!" "Always good to work together with a patriot," he added — Agencies
Russia shoots down 6 drones, 2 missiles
Moscow: Russia said on Sunday that air defences had shot down six drones over Russian regions and two Ukrainian missile over Crimea. “An attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack with two operational-tactical Grom-2 missiles was thwarted,” Russia's defence ministry said. It said the missiles were shot down over the Dzhankoi region. Sergei Aksyonov, Russian-backed head of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, said there were no casualties. Reuters
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