Czech president: There's no Russian invasion - for now
Czech President Miloš Zeman says the conflict in Ukraine is a civil war and believes Russian officials when they say the Russian army "is not participating."Source: Beta
"If you are referring to the civil war in Ukraine, we should call it truthfully and say honestly that it is a civil war. Of course, it may turn into a Russian invasion, but at this point it is a civil war between two groups of Ukraine's population," he told Czech radio station Frekvence1 in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday.
The president warned that what was done by the troops of the Warsaw Pact led by the Red Army when they occupied the former Czechoslovakia in 1968 was "an invasion":
"In the first wave 150,000 Russian soldiers occupied the country. That's an invasion. It has not been proven so far that there is such an invasion in Ukraine, and I accept seriously the statements of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov that there are no Russian soldiers there," said Zeman.
Zeman is conditioning more EU sanctions against Russia with "clear evidence of the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine."
According to the Beta news agency, Swedish Foreign Minisiter Carl Bildt reacted to these concerns by saying: "I do not know if there is some kind of intelligence service in the Czech Republic. Do you have it? You could ask them."
Bildt spoke when Zeman reiterated during the NATO summit in Wales this week that the Russian army was not in Ukraine.
Otherwise, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Defense Minister Martin Stropnicki have quoted "data of intelligence agencies and NATO about 5,000 Russian soldiers who fight on the side of pro-Russian separatists."
"The Islamic state in Syria and Iraq is at least as great a threat as the Russian imperialist ambitions," according to Zeman.