Slovakia halts military aid for Ukraine as parties that oppose it negotiate to form a new government

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s president has refused a plan by her country’s caretaker government to send further military aid to Ukraine, saying it doesn’t have the authority and parties that oppose such support are in talks to form a government following last week’s election.

The presidential office said in a statement Thursday that the current government of technocrats has only limited powers because it lost a mandatory confidence vote in Parliament on June 15, a month after President Zuzana Caputova swore it in.

The technocrat Cabinet was created with the aim of leading the country to Saturday’s early election.

Caputova on Monday asked the leader of the winning party in the election to try to form a coalition government. Populist former prime minister Robert Fico and his leftist Smer, or Direction, party captured 22.9% of the vote on Saturday. It will have 42 seats in the 150-seat Parliament.

Fico has vowed to withdraw Slovakia’s military support for Ukraine, and his victory could further strain the fragile unity in the European Union and NATO.

Fico needs to find coalition partners to rule with a parliamentary majority and has been negotiating with two other parties. He has been given two weeks.

The presidential office said that Caputova, who has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine and visited Kyiv twice since the start of the Russian invasion, has not changed her view on the necessity of military assistance for Ukraine.

But the statement said that “approving a military aid package by the current outgoing government would create a risky precedent for the change of power after any future elections.”

It said the president is ready to support military assistance proposed by any government with full powers.

Slovakia has been a major supporter of Ukraine, donating arms, including its fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets.

The caretaker government had been planning to send ammunition to Ukraine’s armed forces and to train Ukrainian soldiers in demining.

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