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29 Sep 2023, 04:13 GMT+10

Robert Fico has vowed to cut off Slovakia's aid to Ukraine if elected

Robert Fico's Slovak Social Democracy is set to emerge as the largest party in a snap election on Saturday. Fico has called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and promised that not "a single round" of ammunition would be sent to Kiev if he were prime minister.

Fico's party is currently leading with 20% of the vote, according to an aggregate of recent polls compiled by Politico. The pro-Western Progressive Slovakia party is in second place with 18%, while the Voice - Social Democracy party, a potential coalition partner for Fico's Slovak Social Democracy is in third place with 13%. No other faction is polling above single digits.

The prospect of a Fico-led government has already set alarm bells ringing in the EU, where officials in Brussels fear he could veto future military aid to Ukraine and vote against additional anti-Russia sanctions packages.

Fico was Slovak prime minister from 2006 to 2010, and again from 2012 to 2018. He was forced to resign after one of his assistants was linked to the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak. Slovakia is currently run by a government of unelected technocrats, which along with the previous liberal cabinet has given significant military support to Kiev.

Slovakia has sent Ukraine armored personnel carriers, howitzers, and its entire fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets. Fico has publicly condemned the EU's sanctions on Russia, and blamed the conflict in Ukraine on "Ukrainian Nazis and fascists [who] started murdering Russian citizens in Donetsk and Lugansk" in 2014.

"We are a peaceful country," he declared at a rally last week, adding: "we will not send a single round [of ammunition] to Ukraine."

"They will have to sit down anyway and find an agreement," he said of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. "Russia will never leave Crimea, never leave the territories that it controls."

With Fico promising an about-face on Slovakia's pro-Ukraine policy, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) warned on Thursday that the US is preparing to meddle in Saturday's election. "The US State Department sent instructions to several of its European allies to conduct targeted work with local political and business circles," the SVR stated, noting that Washington has sanctioned the use of bribery, blackmail, and threats to prevent Fico from winning.

Should Progressive Slovakia leader Michal Simecka emerge victorious, the SVR claimed that he has already been instructed by the US to form a "cabinet completely loyal to Washington."


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