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Prime Minister Janša on What Happened on the Train and Whether Slovenia Will Find a Brave Diplomat to go to Ukraine

On the 17th of March 2022, Prime Minister Janez Janša was a guest on the show Tema dneva (Topic of the Day) on Nova24TV, where he talked about his trip to Ukraine and the current situation there.

“Traveling to Kyiv is much safer than reporting from battlefields, as people are killed almost every day in Ukraine now. The security aspect of the visit, although this route was not completely without danger, is still being exaggerated in the media,” the Prime Minister said initially. He added that it is a fact that during all this time of Russian aggression against Ukraine, almost a million people have left Kyiv already. “Kyiv has more inhabitants than the whole of Slovenia, and with the units that Russia has, Kyiv cannot be occupied,” said the Prime Minister.

When asked about the fact that the three prime ministers did not have an official mandate for the trip, the Prime Minister said that he did not know what mandate they supposedly needed. “We went there as the prime ministers of our respective countries, in the framework of an initiative that was discussed at the European Council, and which will continue. We are not the only delegation that came to Kyiv after the beginning of the aggression, but we were the first,” said the Prime Minister, adding that the Turkish Foreign Minister was in Kyiv on Friday, as was the President of the International Red Cross. “This is important for Ukraine, even more so than it was for us 30 years ago. Nobody came to us then, and it was even worse for Ukrainian people now. Everyone left them. Ukraine is a sovereign internationally recognised country, which had one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons but gave it up because of the international guarantee that no one will attack them, and now they have been attacked, and even before that, processions of diplomatic missions, missions of international institutions and multinationals fled from Kyiv. The US also called on the President and the government to withdraw because they did not believe that Ukraine would defend itself, but it will defend itself, and Russia will not win this war. The question is how high the number of victims will be, what the price will be, and how firm can the peace agreement be that will be reached,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. He added that what needs to be done now should have already been done 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Europe’s security architecture should have been rebuilt and completed. Russia should have also been included at the time, but it was considered a colony. “What we are seeing in Russia now is in part a similar reaction to the one in Germany after World War I. The fault for the current situation does not rest solely on one side. However, Russia is solely responsible for the aggression against a sovereign state, for the killing of civilians, and for the suffering of millions of people,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.   

“I think we have achieved that the Ukrainians have seen in some way that they are not abandoned and that we all support them from afar. Only the Polish and the Vatican embassies remained there. They do have a curfew, and many civilians have also left Kyiv, but Kyiv is far from a defeated or occupied city,” said the Prime Minister.

What happened on the train to Ukraine?
He then went on to say that “when we got to the Ukrainian train, the employees on the train, the conductors, the border guards, openly said, “thank you.” It was obvious that our visit meant something to them.” “We were lonely at the time when we were fighting the Yugoslav People’s Army, after the proclamation of independence. No minister, no prime minister, no one was with us, and I remember how grateful we were to the German Foreign Minister, who at least came to Klagenfurt to meet with our Foreign Minister,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the visit of the three Prime Ministers reversed the trend: before, everyone was leaving, but now the European Union will send someone there as a representative, and Slovenia should also find a brave diplomat to go there. “This is a gesture that is as important as the material assistance we give them,” said the Prime Minister.
We then asked him when Russia will be ready to negotiate.

Until there is a ceasefire, these are not serious negotiations
“When the Russian army or leadership sees that they can no longer make progress, and they have made very little progress in recent weeks, then they will be ready for negotiations. We will know that they are really willing to negotiate when they agree to a ceasefire. As long as there is no ceasefire, as long as the weapons keep on rattling, these are not serious negotiations, but only Russia wanting the cameras to be turned elsewhere, and not to Mariupol, where civilians are dying,” said the Prime Minister. “Given that much of the world now believes that Ukraine will defend itself and the world is, therefore, ready to help, I think we are relatively close to the point where negotiations will begin,” the Prime Minister said.

“If Putin agrees to negotiate in the near future, then he has a way out, but if his aggression lasts longer, then things may end for him in a similar way as they did for the tsars in more recent Russian history. But time is important because people are dying,” he said of what would happen to Putin in the future. “When we were there, they showed us shocking scenes of what is happening to people in Mariupol and some smaller besieged places. The Russian army has a lot of tanks, a lot of apparent or actual firepower, and very low morale. They shoot from afar, they destroy, but to conquer a defended city, you need infantry, soldiers who are willing to take risks, even to die. Ukrainians said that this risk occurs where there are either Chechens in Russian units, or some military units from the Far East, or mercenaries, but where there are Russian recruits, this is practically non-existent, and a lot of betrayals and desertions have been happening,” the Prime Minister said, concluding that one of the issues currently on the European Union’s table is whether to allow Russian deserters to seek asylum, “because if they return to Russia, they are likely to face a cruel fate.”

Peter Truden

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