Zeman: Russia's attack on Ukraine is a crime against peace

The Czech president called Putin a madman who needs to be isolated, and called for a measured response to stop aggression.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 24.02.2022 12:44:00 (updated on 24.02.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Russia is committing a crime against peace, and its unprovoked attack on Ukraine must be resolutely condemned not only by words but also by deeds, Czech President Miloš Zeman said in his televised speech today.

He expressed his full support for Ukraine, its leadership, and its people. At the same time, he urged Czech people to remain calm.

He said that he liked Russian culture and respected the sacrifices of the Russian people in World War II, but that does not mean that he will agree to a foreign army entering the territory of a sovereign state without declaring war.

“I have studied President Putin's speech this morning in detail and will respond in one sentence. Alleged or actual mistakes, such as the bombing of Yugoslavia or entry into Iraq, cannot justify one's own mistakes. By doing so, Russia is committing a crime against peace,” he said.

Zeman also admitted that he had underestimated the situation. Russia had been massing troops on three sides of Ukraine’s borders for several weeks, and many world leaders had raised concern over the deteriorating situation.

“A few days ago, I said that the Russians were not crazy and that they would not attack Ukraine. I admit I was wrong. The irrational decision of the leadership of the Russian Federation will cause significant damage to the Russian state itself,” he said.

“I believe that it is time to resort to far harsher sanctions than originally planned,” he added. He called for the exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT international banking and financial network.

“Lunatics needs to be isolated, and we must protect against them not only by words but by concrete measures,” Zeman said.

He said that tomorrow afternoon he will participate in a videoconference of the heads of state of NATO. “I have invited Prime Minister Fiala to this videoconference, because I believe that, although we may differ in our views on the state budget, we need to act in complete unity in this serious situation,” he said.

“I believe that the situation will calm down, not by cowardly compromise, but by a measured response against the aggressor. I deeply regret that this is happening, but we must behave like brave people who will not allow aggressors to act in their own interests,” he concluded.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala praised Zeman's speech. “I appreciate the President's approach to Russian aggression. It is good that the president is aware of the importance of a common approach and that the main political representatives of the Czech Republic speak the same way,” Fiala said on Twitter.

“Together with Miloš Zeman, I would like to attend tomorrow's meeting of NATO heads of state,” he added.

Read Zeman's full speech (in Czech) here.

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