Peter Pellegrini: The Pro-Russian Shift in Slovak Politics

Peter Pellegrini is a Slovak politician. He is the president-elect of Slovakia. He currently operates as the Speaker of the National Council since September 2023 and was the PM of Slovakia from 2018 to 2020. He is largely viewed as a pro-Russian Politician. In April 2024, Pellegrini commented if another NATO member state were bombarded by Russia, he would oppose shipping Slovak Armed Forces to administer that member state, as required by Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

A former prime minister, he is a supporter of Prime Minister Robert Fico and shares the PM’s dovish perspective towards Russia. Mr Fico and his allies now handle Slovakia’s parliament, government and the president’s office.

Slovakia had been one of Ukraine’s most resolute allies before Mr Fico came to power in October on a promise to halt supplies of Slovak Army military stocks to Kyiv. With Mr Pellegrini becoming president, Ukraine has now definitively forfeited a voice of support in an EU and Nato capital.

Mr Fico has called for an ending to Western military support for Ukraine, an immediate ceasefire, and peace dialogues with Moscow. He stated recently President Vladimir Putin had been “unfairly demonised” and discussed admitting Ukraine to NATO would mark the beginning of a third world war.

Mr Pellegrini’s campaign reflected some of that Moscow-friendly rhetoric, blaming Mr Korčok for being a warmonger who would send Slovak soldiers to war in Ukraine – a constitutional power the president does not have.

The liberal pro-Western opposition also blames Mr Pellegrini – as head of the coalition Hlas party and chairman of parliament – for remaining quiet as Mr Fico took a wrecking ball to Slovakia’s criminal justice system, notably repealing the Special Prosecutor’s Office, which was set up 20 years ago to probe deep corruption and economic crime.

It had scrutinised some senior officials in Mr Fico’s Smer party and had been overseeing the prosecution of those considered to be responsible for the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in 2018.

Peter Pellegrini’s victory in Slovakia’s presidential elections signals a seismic shift, with his pro-Russian stance echoing a significant departure from the West’s narrative. Pellegrini’s ascent to power amplifies concerns, particularly regarding his affinity towards Moscow, setting the stage for a potential recalibration of Slovakia’s foreign policy. 

His soft approach towards Russia, juxtaposed against his predecessor’s pro-Western stance, underscores a fundamental realignment in Slovakia’s geopolitical orientation. The consolidation of power by Pellegrini, alongside Prime Minister Robert Fico’s coalition, accentuates fears of a growing tilt towards Russia within the Slovakian leadership. This pivot raises apprehensions both domestically and internationally, casting shadows over Slovakia’s commitments to its allies in NATO and the EU.

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