Croatia’s president on Monday criticised Western nations for supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and other weapons in its campaign against invading Russian forces, saying those arms deliveries will only prolong the war.
Zoran Milanovic told reporters in the Croatian capital that it is “mad” to believe that Russia can be defeated in a conventional war.
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“I am against sending any lethal arms there,” Milanovic said. “It prolongs the war.”
“What is the goal? Disintegration of Russia, change of the government? There is also talk of tearing Russia apart. This is mad,” he said.
“It is clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine,” Milanovic added.
The Croatian president was elected in 2019 as a left-leaning liberal candidate, a counterpoint to the conservative government currently in power in the European Union and NATO-member state.
But he has since made a turn to populist nationalism and criticised Western policies towards Russia as well as the Balkans.
Milanovic has built a reputation for being pro-Russia, which he has repeatedly denied.
Yet in recent months, he has openly opposed the admission of Finland and Sweden into NATO as well as the training of Ukrainian troops in Croatia as part of EU aid to the embattled country.
After months of hesitation, the United States said last week that it would send 31 of the 70-tonne Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, and Germany announced it will dispatch 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other countries to do the same.
Milanovic said that “from 2014 to 2022, we are watching how someone provokes Russia with the intention of starting this war”.
“What is the goal of this war? A war against a nuclear power that is at war in another country? Is there a conventional way to defeat such a country?” Milanovic asked on Monday.
“Who pays the price? Europe. America pays the least,” he said. “A year has passed and we are only now talking about tanks,” Milanovic said.
“Not a single American tank will go to Ukraine in a year. Only German tanks will be sent there.”
Although the presidential post is mostly ceremonial in Croatia, Milanovic is formally the supreme commander of the armed forces.
His latest anti-Western outbursts have embarrassed and irritated the country’s government, which has fully supported Ukraine.