A poll released ahead of parliamentary elections in Slovakia scheduled for Sept. 30 illustrate the split between the Slovak electorate on support for Ukraine and a slight lead for opposition leader Robert Fico, Slovak newspaper Dennik N reported.
The poll, conducted by Ipsos for Dennik N, found that the Direction-Social Democracy party (SMER), led by Fico, received 20.6% of support, compared to 19.8% for Progressive Slovakia (PS), the liberal challenger.
Fico, who previously served as Prime Minister of Slovakia from 2006 to 2010, has previously stated he would end Slovakia’s support of Ukraine if he returns to power.
In an interview with the AP, Fico said that "we won’t send any arms or ammunition to Ukraine anymore,” if SMER forms a government. He also opposes EU sanctions against Russia and wants Slovakia, a NATO member, to block Ukraine from joining the alliance.
Fico has also repeated the myth that the war in Ukraine began as a civil war, a narrative Russia used to try to conceal its involvement in Donbas.
On Aug. 30, he told a crowd of supporters that the war in Ukraine began "when the Ukrainian Nazis and fascists started to murder the Russian citizens in Donbas and Luhansk," repeating an unfounded claim common in Russian propaganda.
After Fico was re-elected as prime minister in 2012, he resigned in 2018 following a political crisis sparked by the murder of the investigative journalist Jan Kuciak.
Before he was killed, Kuciak had investigated corruption scandals in Fico's party and alleged ties between the Italian mafia and figures in Fico's network.
In contrast, Fico’s primary opponent Michal Simecka,who leads PS, has promised to maintain support for Ukraine. He stressed that a reversal of Slovakia’s current position of providing support would put the nation at odds with other EU and NATO countries, and could cause Slovakia to become isolated.
Due to the narrow split between the two parties, it is unlikely that either will gain an overwhelming majority and will have to form a governing coalition.