Not only Vladimir Putin but the entire Russian society are responsible for the war in Ukraine. Western special services should keep an eye on Russians who emigrated to the West. Czech President Petr Pavel expressed this opinion in an interview with the Ukrainian editorial board of Radio Liberty.
Thus, the Czech leader criticized the narrative popular in Western countries that Putin personally is responsible for Russia’s attack on Ukraine and not the Russian people as a whole.
“This argument does not stand up to criticism. If we look at the support that Putin enjoys among the Russian population, when we see how many people support the war, how many people are calling for the war to be spread to other countries, we should call this war a Russian war”.Petr Pavel, Czech President
All Russians in the EU are citizens of a country that is waging an aggressive war – Pavel
The Czech president also calls for a more cautious attitude towards Russian citizens who have moved to the West, even if they disagree with Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
“As long as the war continues, security measures for Russian citizens should be stricter than under normal circumstances. All Russians living in Western countries should be monitored more than in the past. Because they are citizens of a country that is waging an aggressive war”.Petr Pavel, Czech President
According to the Czech president, security services should keep an eye on Russians in Europe.
Russians in Europe – do they pose a threat?
The Russian diaspora in Europe consists of different groups with many different views. Although many former Russians assure that they sympathize with Ukraine in the current war, some actively support Russian aggression.
Such pro-Kremlin Russians are particularly active in Germany. They even hold pro-Putin rallies there, where they urge the West to stop supporting Ukraine. Read more in our article How Russians organize rallies in Germany and get neo-Nazis support. In June pro-Russian activist in Germany Elena Kolbasnikova was tried and fined for supporting Moscow’s war.
There are reports that Russian citizens are involved in provocations in Europe or at least organize them. The purpose of such provocations is to try to set Western countries against each other and set the EU against Turkey, and put Ukraine in a negative light.
Some Russians are actively collecting donations to buy various equipment for the Russian invading soldiers who are now waging in Ukraine, according to Reuters.
The BBC estimates, based on statistics, that at least 155,400 Russian citizens received temporary residence permits in Europe, Turkey and the CIS in 2022. Around 15,000 sought political asylum in the EU, but only just over 2,000 such requests were granted there, according to Eurostat data.
In the Czech Republic, there have been only 5 positive decisions and 60 rejections. According to data from the Republic’s Police, by the end of 2022, 43.5 thousand Russians resided in the country.