“If Kiev Falls, Russia Will Not Stop And There Will Be a Domino Effect In Eastern Europe”

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša warned in an interview with Euractiv that the West must now stop Russian President Vladimir Putin, because if Kiev falls, it will have consequences for all of Eastern Europe.

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“I am 100% convinced that Russia is not going to stop in Ukraine if Kiev falls. The next target will be Moldova, then Georgia, they will cause problems in the Western Balkans and then the target will be the Baltic States”, he added, echoing the words of the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, who also warned that the war may spread across Europe.

Janša has warned of a possible “domino effect” if Russia is successful in its attempt to invade Ukraine. The Slovenian prime minister has assured that it is crucial that “Europe learns something from its history”, referring to the policy of appeasement that was followed during the Second World War and the wars in the Balkans.

The Slovenian Prime Minister compares Putin to infamous figures in recent European history, stating that “there is no formula for working with people who think like Hitler or Stalin. We have to stop them from the beginning.”

Similarly, he considers that while there are, in his opinion, some “uncanny similarities” between Putin and former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, and Europe could expect “the same irrational moves when things do not go as planned”, Russia is not Yugoslavia and is a nuclear power.

That is why Janša claims to be clear that it is necessary to stop Russia in its tracks as soon as possible. “It’s expensive, the sanctions, the military aid, it’s not a lossless thing, but the price of stopping it [a Putin] it is a thousand times less now than the price we would pay if we allowed him to take the Ukraine.”

Asked if those who for now have not joined the sanctions – notably Serbia – and the condemnation of the Russian actions will be judged by history, Janša stated: “The whole world will have to decide”. “It is similar to when Nazi Germany attacked Poland, and I don’t think we should risk failing as the West failed at the time,” he says.

Application for entry into the EU

Earlier this week, Janša and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki called on EU member states to make “swift and courageous decisions” and spoke in favor of Ukraine joining the EU in 2030. Several European leaders Similar comments have been made by the East and also, more recently, by several EU leaders at the same time that Zelenskiy has signed the request to start negotiations to enter the EU to send it formally to Brussels.

The Slovenian Prime Minister explained that a half-hour conversation with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, “changed the mood in favor of the prospect of a European Ukraine, much more than the thousands of meetings in which the same topic in the past.

In what some have called the clearest commitment yet from EU leaders, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that Ukraine belongs to the EU and the bloc wants the country to join. one (although the decision depends on the governments meeting in the European Council, not on the president of the Commission).

“The time to think about the strategic changes that are on the table is now because public opinion in Western Europe is changing,” says Janša. “This has to be a strategic political response from the EU to the current challenges. What was not possible a week ago is possible now,” she adds.

The tightening of Kiev’s ties with the West is a thorn in Moscow’s side, and these comments are unlikely to please Putin, who has claimed a historic unity between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples as one of his justifications for the invasion. from Ukraine.

“The discussions about EU enlargement in the last decade were very outdated: ‘They are not fulfilling the conditions’, ‘they are not controlling their own territory’ and so on: this was the Russian narrative, that is why Russia started this conflict,” says the Slovenian Prime Minister.

“Talking about a European perspective for Ukraine is not only giving them a prospect of prosperity after 10 or 15 years, but also giving them hope and the feeling that they belong to the family, and that there is a family that is fighting for them,” he said. added.

“The Story Battle”

US intelligence leaks and Russian television coverage are part of the “battle of the story” in this crisis. Asked if he believes that public pressure has any impact on Moscow’s actions, Janša says that “the Kremlin doesn’t know that now everyone can report and that it is not possible to fight with the same old Soviet-style propaganda.”

Comparing the situation to the wars in the Balkans, Janša says that Western countries were not prepared to deal with what eventually happened. “But the media was prepared, and now the same is happening in Ukraine,” he defended, adding that “without media attention, Ukraine would not have many opportunities.”

“When people around the world can see the suffering and the difference between those who attack and those who defend themselves, the situation changes”, summarizes the Slovenian Prime Minister.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) puts the number of Ukrainian refugees at up to four million if the situation worsens. The European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, raised this figure to seven million. “Slovenia is, of course, ready to participate; we had a similar situation after the war in Bosnia”, he says when asked about his commitment to hosting Ukrainian refugees.

Janša emphasizes that those fleeing from Ukraine “are not immigrants, but refugees”, stressing that EU leaders were “united” in assessing this crisis when they discussed the matter last week.

Asked if this would be the time to reopen the debate on the stalled EU migration pact, Janša assures that the bloc should bring together the debate that could not be closed in recent years. “But it is not possible to close the discussion on the difference between economic migrants and refugees, they are two different categories,” he adds.

* This article was originally published in English on Euactiv.



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