Czech PM warns Europe could be moving away from war

Mr. Fiala said that the situation was becoming more serious day by day and that Europe could be one step away from war. Attempts to reach a diplomatic solution with Russia have yet to bear fruit, Fiala said, adding that despite this he still believes it is possible to find one. Nevertheless, the West must be prepared to accept the possibility that a solution will not be found at the negotiating table.

His remarks were similar to those of other European leaders such as Boris Johnson following the Munich security conference, held over the weekend.

Western unity is key to persuading Russia not to commit an act of aggression, the Czech prime minister said, adding that if it were to do so, it would face severe sanctions. He said he was impressed by the unity of all EU member states in seeking a common approach to the situation.

Petr Fiala |  Photo: Francois Walschaerts, ČTK/AP

“The whole EU is united on this point and this is new. We know that in our recent history, the last decade, our positions may have differed slightly, for example due to different economic or historical interests.

“We have a negative experience. Then there are the Baltic states, which are directly at risk. These positions were varied, France and Germany sometimes had moments of caution and openness to negotiation with Russia and the application of lighter sanctions. Today our position is completely united and I don’t think President Putin counted on that.

Mr Fiala said a wide range of sanctions are prepared should Russia attack. These vary in severity depending on the type of action Russia may choose to take. Sanctions would be different in the event of a massive cyberattack compared to those in response to a military invasion, the prime minister said. However, none of them are cosmetic and would have no impact on Russia. He also said that the EU was ready to support those states that would be most affected within the Union.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said the Czech Republic would send additional medical aid to Ukraine worth CZK 10 million. According to the Prime Minister, this could amount to 100 million CZK if the situation were to worsen.

Berta D. Wells