Good evening. Welcome to this special edition of Today in Slovakia, where we cover recent developments in Slovakia concerning the conflict in Ukraine.
Slovakia’s help to Ukraine
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) has offered Slovakia's capital as a potential venue for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. “We want peace. We want peace for Ukraine, for this whole region. We want this aggression to stop. That is why we offered to both the Ukrainian and the Russian side to hold peace talks in Bratislava,” Heger told journalists as he arrived at an extraordinary cabinet session on Sunday, February 27.
Both Heger and President Zuzana Čaputová said they will support Ukraine’s EU accession. “Ukraine opted to take a European direction long ago, and we finally have to respond: it’s time to give Ukraine the prospect of EU membership,” Čaputová said.
Slovakia will send air defence systems and anti-tank missiles worth about €4.5 million to help Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia, the cabinet agreed at its Sunday session. Meanwhile, Slovakia's airspace remains open to Russian aeroplanes. Transport Minister Andrej Doležal (Sme Rodina) said that EU transport ministers will discuss the issue tonight, and a final decision on whether to close Slovakia's airspace could be implemented within 24 hours.
President Čaputová visited the eastern Slovak border, where she applauded the cooperation of the state administration, municipalities and volunteers who are helping refugees. She said the country is ready for refugees, adding Slovak officials are doing everything to be able to help them. She went on to say the waiting times at the border should be shortened.
The government has set up two special websites to help people from Ukraine. The Ua.gov.sk website provides more detailed information, in Ukrainian, about what awaits people directly at the border, and about living in Slovakia. The Pomocpreukrajinu.sk website, run by the Transport Ministry, provides more information on the available accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in state and private facilities (in Slovak and Ukrainian).
Four hotspots for refugees from Ukraine will be available near Slovakia’s eastern border in the municipalities of Ulič, Ubľa, Vyšné Nemecké and Veľké Slemence. They will not serve as border crossings, but will provide aid to refugees from Ukraine, partly by speeding up administrative processes. The first two opened in Ubľa and Ulič on Sunday afternoon.
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Picture of the day
Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Russian Embassy in Bratislava on Saturday, February 26, and on Bratislava's Main Square, to protest against Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
More security-related news
- Altogether, 27,679 people from Ukraine crossed official border crossings with Slovakia between February 24 and the morning of February 27 (of them 25,935 Ukrainian citizens); most came through the crossings at Vyšné Nemecké (13,645 people) and Ubľa (10,715). Of these, 44 people asked for asylum (43 Ukrainians and one Russian), the Interior Ministry said.
- Six out of ten Slovaks blame Russia for the war in Ukraine, according to an AKO poll conducted for the Hospodárske Noviny daily on Friday, one day after Russia invaded Slovakia’s neighbour. More than 62 percent of respondents said Russia was responsible for the war. Meanwhile, 25 percent of those polled believe the US is to blame for the conflict.
- Editors-in-chief of Slovak media outlets and representatives of several press organisations have issued a joint statement, expressing their support for independent journalists in Ukraine and Russia. “We stand by all our colleagues who defend what remains of their freedom of speech in Russia. Ukrainian journalists are defending not only their country but also the right to freedom for all of us,” they said.
- Non-governmental organisations have collected more than €1 million to help Ukraine through the Darujme.sk website since Thursday. “The solidarity of Slovaks is huge, we haven’t seen anything like this before,” the organisers have said.
- Bratislava is ready to prepare accommodation for Ukrainians, if needed. The city, in cooperation with its boroughs, can offer thousands of places for temporary overnight stays and catering, mostly at schools and houses of culture.
- The municipal authority building in Košice’s Old Town borough will house an information contact spot where they will collect information about accommodation for refugees and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
For more details about the situation in Slovakia following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, follow Spectator.sk.