Slovakia elects president skeptical of Ukraine support

Peter Pellegrini will lead Slovakia

Peter Pellegrini was elected to serve as Slovakia’s next president on Saturday, defeating former Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok. Pellegrini is a close ally of Prime Minister Robert Fico, who strongly opposes sending weapons to Ukraine.
With nearly 100% of the ballots counted, Pellegrini is leading with 53.17% of the votes, according to the official tally.
Korcok has conceded defeat. “I am genuinely disappointed, to be honest,” he said shortly after the results were announced. “But because I am an athlete at heart, I respect the results. It was a celebration of democracy.”
Outgoing President Zuzana Caputova congratulated Pellegrini, wishing him success in office. “It is important that, from the moment of the election, the new president acts in such a way that no part of society will feel defeated,” she said.
Pellegrini served as prime minister between 2018 and 2020 and is currently the speaker of Slovakia’s parliament. He is allied with Fico, who has reversed the previous government’s decision to send military aid to Ukraine.

Fico has been a vocal critic of NATO and the EU for their unconditional support for Ukraine during its fight against Russia, arguing that Slovakia should not be dragged into the conflict. He accused Kiev of making “unrealistic” demands regarding the potential peace settlement with Moscow and even suggested that Ukraine may have to relinquish its territorial claims. He also slammed Korcok as “a warmonger who unhesitatingly supports everything the West tells him.”
Pellegrini has defended stopping weapons deliveries to Ukraine. In his victory speech, the president-elect promised to “do everything to ensure that Slovakia will always remain on the side of peace and not on the side of war, whether anyone likes it or not.”
In an op-ed published last month in the newspaper Hospodarske noviny, Pellegrini dismissed the idea of potentially sending NATO troops to Ukraine as a dangerous escalation. He argued that it was “irresponsible” for Slovakian politicians to call for arms shipments to Ukraine without any regard for Bratislava’s own safety and to “label those who mention the word ‘peace’ as the agents of Moscow.”