In a bold and controversial statement, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico claimed on Saturday, 20 January, that Ukraine is not a sovereign country but is under the full control of the United States. This assertion aligns with a Russian conspiracy theory and marks a significant political stance by the Slovak leader.
Fico, a populist politician known for his opposition to military aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, also reiterated his stance against Ukraine joining NATO. His comments were made during an interview with the Slovak public broadcaster RTVS according to Euractiv.
"Ukraine is not an independent and sovereign country," Fico stated. "It is completely under the influence and control of the United States."
This statement comes as a notable deviation from the positions held by most NATO and European Union members, both of which Slovakia is a part of.
Fico's comments precede his scheduled meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Uzhhorod, a city in western Ukraine near the Slovak border, set for Wednesday.
In his interview, Fico went further to express his intent to veto Ukraine's NATO membership, claiming it could potentially trigger World War 3. He also confirmed his decision to withhold any military assistance from Slovakia to Ukraine, heightening the tensions in the already strained relationship.
Fico also criticized Ukraine for alleged corruption, casting doubt on the efficacy of international aid sent to the country. He suggested that there is no military solution to the ongoing conflict, which began with Russia's invasion nearly two years ago, and proposed that Ukraine should cede some of its territory as part of a painful compromise.
This hardline stance by Fico, reflecting a pro-Russian sentiment, comes despite Slovakia's membership in the European Union, which has largely been supportive of Ukraine. A report by the Bratislava-based Globsec think tank published in 2023 identified Slovakia as one of the most pro-Russian countries in the EU.
However, despite Fico’s criticism of Ukraine, only Hungary, led by Viktor Orbán, vetoed a significant EU aid package for Kyiv last December. This move by Fico potentially places Slovakia at odds with the general EU consensus regarding support for Ukraine.