Fico criticizes Ukraine for possible sanctions against Russia

Slovak prime minister says Ukraine should honor its commitments to the association agreement

Bratislava, Aug. 14 (ČTK) — Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has criticized Ukraine for preparing sanctions against Russian persons and companies, and he has called on Ukraine not to approve them, expressing concerns that the legislation could result in a halt to natural gas supplies.

If the conflict between Ukraine and Russia escalates, the legal norm could cause interruption of natural gas supplies to Slovakia (and to Western Europe) via Ukraine from Russia, he said.

Ukrainian state-owned gas company Naftogaz Wednesday warned European gas importers that gas supplies may be interrupted due to continuing disputes over gas prices between Ukraine and Russia and the possibility of Ukrainian sanctions against Russia.

Slovakia depends on supplies of Russian gas. However, if gas supplies via Ukraine were interrupted, Slovakia would get gas through backflow from the West.

“It is strange that a country that has signed an association agreement with the EU and which we are trying to help is taking one-sided steps that endanger the individual economic interests of EU member countries, instead of coordinating its approach with the EU,” Fico said.

He said Slovakia had helped Ukraine to secure gas supplies from the West back to Ukraine. The supplies will begin in September. They will help Ukraine lower its dependence on gas supplies from Russia.

“We do not want to be a hostage in the Russian-Ukrainian problem. We expect Ukraine not to adopt formal steps that, if implemented, can endanger our interests. A country that has signed the association agreement should not behave like that,” Fico declared.

Slovakia is now better prepared for the potential interruption of gas supplies from Russia than it was five years ago, when another Russia-Ukraine dispute led to gas being cut off to Slovakia for some two weeks.

Slovakia can now also import gas from the Czech Republic and Austria. The capacity of these supplies, as Fico said, is higher than the consumption of Slovak households and companies.

Moreover, Slovakia could also supply gas to Ukraine.

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