Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský is not in favor of allowing Czech volunteers to participate in the fighting in Ukraine. In an interview with Novinky.cz news outlet, the minister also talked about the effect of sanctions against Russia, the exclusion of the country from the SWIFT system, and Czechia’s readiness for a possible cut in gas supplies from Russia.
Lipavský, for example, responded to the question of whether, according to him, the current sanctions against Russia would have an effect. The largest Russian companies handling energy payments are not involved in the SWIFT system.
“The sanctions package that has been adopted is very tough. We can all see what the shares of Russia’s Sberbank have done and how the Russian ruble has gone down. It’s all very fresh. The reaction of the Russian economy is only gradually coming. EU foreign ministers will talk about Ukraine again. We will see how the situation develops,” he said.
Lipavský stressed that Russia has not been able to sell a single barrel of oil to Europe since the beginning of the crisis because various financial institutions do not want to insure the related banking transactions. According to him, the Russian Federation is thus feeling the economic blockade through means other than the exclusion of specific entities from the SWIFT trading system.
“We need to see how the sanctions work, what their impact will be, and wait to see if the Russian Federation realizes what is happening and if we will not move to a political solution,” he said.
According to Lipavský, existing sanctions can strategically contribute to changing the situation on the battlefield. The support that Ukraine receives from many countries may also change the situation.
The minister also replied whether he agreed that Czech volunteers should have the opportunity to fight in Ukraine. He emphasized that this was allowed only via presidential authority. Allegedly, there is no plan to involve the professional Czech army in Ukraine now.
“We need to realize that being a member of the armed forces requires a lot of responsibilities. If someone is not a full-fledged soldier, it is more of a romantic idea than a real help for Ukraine. In this regard, we are more of the opinion that such individuals should try to help more voluntarily or in some non-profit organization,” he stated.
Lipavský also commented on the dependence of Czechia and thus the whole of Europe on Russian gas supplies.
“Having diversified resources at the cost of some being less cost-effective for a while than others is proving to be crucial and strategic for us to survive in times of crisis,” the minister declared.
According to Lipavský, the government is now mapping out the effects of a potential shortfall in Russian resources. However, according to him, it is hard to anticipate specific consequences due to the uncertain development of the situation, but people should not panic.
“I am in favor of discussing energy at the European level if possible. Today, we know that we can get gas in the form of liquefied LNG into Europe. Alternative sources can be sought, for example, for coal supplies,” he added.
Lipavský answered questions about the possible accession of the Balkan countries to the EU, which was discussed after the potential admission of Ukraine to the Union.
“The Western Balkans deserve a European perspective. Some potential conflicts and frictions need to be resolved here as well. However, I believe that the time has come for Europe to take a clearer step towards countries with European aspirations,” he said.