PM calls V4 meeting over Ukraine, Czech, Belarusian tension

Mateusz Marek/PAP

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called a special video conference of the Visegrad Group (V4) prime ministers to discuss recent developments in Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Belarus.

Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, wrote on Twitter that the meeting will take place on Monday and will focus on Russia's recent sabotage acts in the Czech Republic, the escalating situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border and the country’s role in raising tension in Belarus.

On April 17, the Czech Republic expelled 18 employees of the Russian embassy in Prague on espionage grounds. The decision hung together with the Czech intelligence service's earlier confirmation of Russian involvement in a 2014 explosion at a Czech ammunition depot, in which two people died.

In retaliation, Russia has expelled 20 diplomats from the Czech embassy in Moscow.

Government spokesperson Piotr Muller said the V4 countries backed the Czechs in the matter, and added that the Czechs also had the support of Nato, five of the EP's seven factions, and EU foreign affairs high representative Josep Borell.

On April 15, Poland also recognised three diplomats of the Russian Embassy in Warsaw as persona non grata and in retaliation five Polish Embassy staff have been recognised as persona non grata by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said in a radio interview that Monday's meeting was a step towards coordinating the V4 countries' common stance towards Russia's aggressive international policy.

"We will undertake further steps if necessary, because Russia's policy is unfortunately still marked by plain aggression. (This is visible - PAP) in what they are doing in Ukraine and in Belarus - although there it is being done by Lukashenko's hands - and in their attempts to destabilise the Baltic states, and also Poland," Jablonski said.

The prime ministers will discuss the recent escalations in east Ukraine's Russia-bordering Donbas region, in whose vicinity Russia has been amassing troops despite a July 2020 ceasefire, and Moscow's support for Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, whose 2020 reelection to the country's presidency in a feigned election caused hundreds of thousands of Belarusians to take to the streets.

The Visegrad Group, set up in 1991, commonly known as the V4, is an informal platform of regional cooperation between Poland, Hungary and the Czech and Slovak republics.