Prague - The Russian steps in Ukraine are an invasion and the peace plan of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is the only way out of the crisis there, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the Questions of Vaclav Moravec discussion on public Czech Television today.
Český premiér Bohuslav Sobotka přichází 30. srpna v Bruselu na mimořádný summitu EU k situaci na Ukrajině a unijním personálním otázkám. ČTK Dospiva Jakub
Sanctions against Russia have not been efficient so far, he added.
The Czech Republic has reserved the right to disagree with part of the EU´s proposal for tightening sanctions against Russia if they caused disproportionately high economic losses and the government will debate them next week, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said after the EU summit in Brussels.
The right-wing opposition sharply criticised Sobotka for his reserved stance on further sanctions.
Unlike Sobotka, junior government Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek clearly stood up for the imposition of stricter sanctions.
Ukraine is not prepared for either EU or NATO entry and this possibility is not even being discussed, Sobotka also said, adding that Ukraine might suffer from a humanitarian crisis in winter.
Sobotka for the first time called the Russian action in eastern Ukraine an invasion today.
He also expressed disappointment at the talks of the summit in Minsk, which, in his opinion, did not bring real results despite high expectations.
Nevertheless, he said, there is no other but a diplomatic way to solve the conflict in which over 1000 Russian troops participate, according to NATO.
The Czech government will assess further sanctions that the EU is preparing at its regular meeting on Wednesday. It has reserved the right to reject them.
Sobotka said he could not agree with the sanctions beforehand at the Saturday summit of the European Council as he did not know their range. The sanctions imposed so far have not changed Russia´s behaviour, he added.
Belobradek today stood up for stricter sanctions.
"The sanctions will be painful for us, too, but if we do not want to wage war, which we do not, there is nothing left but tough sanctions. Though they will harm us economically. It is the price for values and principles," Belobradek told CTK.
Opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) today sharply criticised Sobotka´s words about Ukraine. ODS deputy chairman Kupka called them "unprecedented.
"The prime minister is constantly changing his opinion. His questioning the sanctions places us into the role of an unreliable partner not only in the EU, but also in NATO," Blazek wrote on Facebook, adding that the Kremlin must have rejoiced at Sobotka´s performance.
"It is an immensely short-sighted, buck passing and cowardly position," TOP 09 first deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek told CTK commenting on Sobotka´s view.
Czechs can hardly expect its Western neighbours to be more principled when the countries that experienced occupation and invasion prefer their own costs to a principled stance, Kalousek pointed out.
Former Foreign Minister and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg also challenged Sobotka´s stance.
Sobotka also said he was convinced that the EU´s unity in concerning Ukraine was not disintegrating in spite of the member states´ different stance on further steps.