The president of NATO member Croatia has sensationally declared it is ‘mad’ to think that Russia can be defeated in a conventional war and criticised western nations for supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and other weapons.
Zoran Milanovic told reporters in the Croatian capital Zagreb that the military aid provided by Western nations to Kyiv is futile and will only extend the conflict.
‘I am against sending any lethal arms there, it prolongs the war,’ Milanovic said.
‘What is the goal? Disintegration of Russia, change of the government? There is also talk of tearing Russia apart. This is mad,’ he added.
Milanovic also declared today that Crimea – the peninsula annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014 – would never be returned to Kyiv.
Croatian president Zoran Milanovic has railed against the West’s provision of military aid and weapons to Ukraine, despite his nation being a part of NATO
The US are to send some 31 of their M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, US President Biden announced on 25 January 2023. The move comes as Germany agreed to send its Leopard 2 tanks and allow other countries with stocks of Leopard 2s to do the same
What the West is doing about Ukraine ‘is deeply immoral because there is no solution (to the war),’ Milanovic told reporters during a visit to military barracks in the eastern town of Petrinja.
‘It is clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine,’ he concluded.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to restore Ukrainian rule over Crimea, arguing the peninsula belongs to Ukraine and that the annexation was not recognised by most countries.
Milanovic won the presidential election in Croatia 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 of being a supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin, something he has routinely denied.
Yet in recent months, he has openly opposed the admission of Finland and Sweden into NATO, and has also refused to host training of Ukrainian troops in Croatia.
In December, Croatian lawmakers rejected a proposal that the country join a European Union mission in support of the Ukrainian military, reflecting deep divisions between Milanovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
Milanovic (left) is seen shaking hands with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in December 2020
Milanovic today declared: ‘It is clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) has vowed to restore Ukrainian rule over Crimea
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a video-linked meeting with the Vologda region governor at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on January 30, 2023
Berlin will initially supply at least 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine (file image), allowing other nations with stocks of Leopard 2s to do the same
After months of hesitation, the US said last week it would send 31 of its 70-ton Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine.
Germany announced it would dispatch 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other countries to do the same.
The ramping up of military aid in the form of heavy armour came after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to send a battalion of Challenger 2 tanks to Kyiv.
But the move was hotly contested by Milanovic despite his allegiance to all three countries via NATO.
He appeared to complain that the United States could send military aid to Kyiv without repercussions, while European nations are forced to carry the burden.
‘From 2014 to 2022, we are watching how someone provokes Russia with the intention of starting this war,’ he said today.
‘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?’
‘Who pays the price? Europe. America pays the least. A year has passed and we are only now talking about tanks,’ Milanovic continued.
Ukraine had been relying on Soviet-era T-72 tanks but its military will be modernised with the shipment of Nato vehicles
‘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 in its fight against Russia’s aggression.
Milanovic criticised Western countries for using double standards in international politics, saying Russia would invoke what he called the international community’s ‘annexation of Kosovo’ as an excuse for taking parts of Ukraine.
Milanovic was referring to Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008 following a 1998-1999 war in which NATO countries bombed rump-Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, to protect Albanian-majority Kosovo.
Russia today warned it is on the ‘verge of a direct collision with the US and NATO’ and it is ‘very possible’ there will be no nuclear arms control treaty with America after 2026 due to Washington’s efforts to inflict ‘strategic defeat’ on Moscow in Ukraine (launch of a Russian Sarmat nuclear-capable missile is pictured)
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington’s decision to supply Kyiv with 31 of its fast-moving M1 Abrams tanks (pictured) was an ‘extremely destructive step’ which ‘escalated’ the war in Ukraine
‘We recognised Kosovo against the will of a state (Serbia) to which Kosovo belonged,’ he said, cautioning that he was not questioning Kosovo’s independence but the concept of Western double standards.
The Croatian president’s stance against continued Western support for Ukraine came as Russian officials today warned their country is on the ‘verge of a direct collision with the US and NATO’.
They said it is ‘very possible’ there will be no nuclear arms control treaty with America after 2026 due to Washington’s efforts to inflict ‘strategic defeat’ on Moscow in Ukraine.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington’s decision to supply Kyiv with 31 of its fast-moving M1 Abrams tanks was an ‘extremely destructive step’ which ‘escalated’ the war in Ukraine.
Ryabkov claimed Washington’s apparent insistence to inflict ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia means that the future of the nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Moscow is in doubt.
He warned that the last remaining pillar of the treaty could therefore expire in 2026 without a replacement.