Slovakia's president has appointed the country's new government under the leadership of Robert Fico, head of the now-ruling pro-Russian party SMER (Direction), the Slovak news outlet SME reported on Oct. 25.
Fico's left-populist SMER, which came first in the Sep. 30 parliamentary elections with 22.9% of the vote, formed a new cabinet together with the social-democratic HLAS (Voice) party and the ultranationalist Slovak National Party (SNS).
SMER's candidates are to lead the country's defense and foreign ministries, as well as four other departments.
The appointment of SMER's Juraj Blanar as Slovakia's new foreign minister made headlines in Ukraine, as he previously called Russian aggression in 2014 a Ukrainian "civil war."
"It is my task to respect the results of the elections and to name the government that meets the conditions for a proper functioning," commented Zuzana Caputova, the country's liberal president whose past relationship with Fico has been rocky at best.
The president raised objections last week to the new coalition's candidate for an environment minister. Rudolf Huliak, a pro-Russian SNS lawmaker who has denied climate change, was then replaced by far-right Tomas Taraba, who has a history with the neo-fascist LSNS party, the Guardian reported.
Fico, head of the Slovak government for the fourth time in his political career, has opposed military aid for Ukraine, promising that Bratislava will not send "a single cartridge" to Kyiv once he is in charge.
"You will hear a sovereign Slovak voice from our ministries and sovereign Slovak foreign policy," Fico promised upon his appointment.
The newly-named head of the Slovak government is also close to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, another Central European populist leader with friendly attitudes toward the Kremlin.
Slovakia has provided Ukraine with extensive humanitarian and military assistance under the previous governments, including artillery, fighter jets, and other support.