Slovaks raise €2million for ammunition for Ukraine defying government’s stance

As part of the Ammunition for Ukraine initiative, Slovaks have raised nearly two million euros to buy ammunition for Ukraine.

A fundraising campaign is underway in Slovakia to support a Czech initiative to purchase artillery ammunition for Ukraine outside the European Union. The campaign has raised 1.94 million euros as of Friday, April 19.

More than 30,000 donors have made donations of an average of 64 euros in four days, according to the Ammunition for Ukraine initiative website. The fundraiser will be open-ended, the organizers promise. 

“When I learned about the Czech government’s initiative, I was very happy to hear that they are looking for all the ways to help Ukraine defend itself against the aggressor, because there is no other way,” said Otto Simko, a 99-year-old journalist and Holocaust survivor, one of the organizers of the fundraiser for the shells. 

He also stressed the need to drive the Russian invaders out of Ukraine so that “we can talk about peace on terms that are consistent with Ukrainian independence.”

Dissatisfaction with the Fico government’s stance

According to Reuters, the campaign aims to demonstrate that the majority of Slovaks disagree with the shift in foreign policy following the arrival of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government.

“Many people in Slovakia are embarrassed by the government’s orientation towards Russia. That’s why people are doing their part,” explained Zuzana Izsakova of the Peace for Ukraine group, which is one of the organizers of the action.

More than 20 countries have joined the Czech initiative to purchase ammunition for Ukraine, but the Slovak government did not participate in the campaign, saying that the conflict “has no military solution” and sending weapons to Ukraine “will only prolong the war.”

Last year, the Slovak government suspended military aid to Ukraine, arguing that Russia’s war against Ukraine has no military solution, and Prime Minister Robert Fico called for peace talks. Fico also opposes Ukraine’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO). “I will use my veto and block it because it will be the foundation of World War III,” he said in January.

Slovakia has been a strong supporter of Ukraine, and the previous center-right government supplied Ukraine with military equipment, including combat vehicles, the S-300 air defense system, and MiG-29 aircraft. Since 2022, before Fico took office, Slovakia has provided Kyiv with military aid in 13 packages totaling 671 million euros.

Slovakia stopped providing military aid to Ukraine last year after the election of pro-Russian politician Robert Fico as prime minister, who claims that “the conflict has no military solution” and calls for “peaceful negotiations. At least 15 countries have already joined the Czech initiative to purchase ammunition for the Ukrainian armed forces, but Slovakia has refused to join.

Instead, local activists decided to express their disagreement with the government’s actions and launched a campaign to raise funds for ammunition for the Ukrainian armed forces.

“Many people in Slovakia are embarrassed by the government’s orientation toward Russia. That’s the reason why people are contributing,” said Zuzana Izsakova, organizer of the Ammunition for Ukraine campaign.

In four days, they managed to raise 1.94 million euros. 30,000 people joined the campaign, each contributing an average of 64 euros. The campaign will be ongoing.

The Czech Arms Initiative envisages that Prague will only act as an intermediary, relying on its extensive experience and connections in the arms trade dating back to the Cold War, as well as money from the EU and NATO, to overcome the “ammunition hunger” in the Ukrainian army.

Slovak Prime Minister Fico, known for pro-Russian statements, himself has not yet commented on the success of this initiative. However, Defense Minister Robert Kaliák told a local TV channel that Slovakia is a democracy and Slovaks can do what they want. The Slovak government will provide Kyiv with other assistance in return, such as demining, he said.

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