Zeman: Russia ‘unlikely’ to attack Baltics

Czech president, who will visit Moscow in May, says his Russian counterpart is ‘not suicidal’

Prague, April 21 (ČTK) — Russia is unlikely to attack the Baltic countries, because President Vladimir Putin “is not suicidal,” and he “knows the consequences this would have,” Czech President Miloš Zeman said in an interview with the Associated Press news agency today.

He said he does not think Russia could start a war by attacking any of the NATO member countries. Such an attack would definitely meet with “an appropriate military, not just a political and economic, reaction,” he said.

AP mentions Zeman’s opposition to the sanctions the West has imposed on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, which he considers counterproductive.

Zeman suggested that the sanctions be gradually lifted if Russia does not advance into Ukraine.

According to Zeman, it would not make economic sense for Russia to annex eastern Ukraine.

“I think [Russia] is satisfied with the annexation of Crimea. … I doubt it would be possible to invade eastern Ukraine, simply because it has been destroyed by the civil war, and Moscow would have to feed tens of millions of hungry mouths, and for that their economic capacity is insufficient,” Zeman said.

He also commented on his recent public dispute with U.S. ambassador to Prague, Andrew Schapiro, who criticized Zeman’s planned attendance of the May 9 military parade in Moscow.

The Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations strictly forbids ambassadors from interfering in the internal affairs of the host state — an agreement that “Mr. Schapiro violated either unknowingly or on purpose,” Zeman said.

AP writes that in reaction to criticism from Czech politicians, Zeman announced he would not attend the parade in Moscow.

“I’m going to Moscow to honor the dead, not the living,” he is quoted as saying.

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