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Czech speaker: Crimea response a “mistake” that emboldened Russia’s war

Most leaders in 2014 opted for limited sanctions, which was interpreted as weakness, Adamová said ahead of Crimean Platform summit in Prague
Markéta Pekarová Adamová, speaker of the Czech lower house.
Markéta Pekarová Adamová, speaker of the Czech lower house. Screenshot from video by RFE/RL
Czech speaker: Crimea response a “mistake” that emboldened Russia’s war

The West’s response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was not strong enough, emboldening Moscow in its current war against Ukraine, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, speaker of the Czech lower house, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

According to Adamová, many leaders now realize that not pushing back forcefully enough against Russia over Crimea eight years ago was a mistake. She stated that sanctions and other measures at the time were insufficient, which Russia likely interpreted as weakness.

“I now believe we clearly made the wrong decision not to put more pressure on Russia, because our response was insufficient,” Adamová stated. “And I’m almost certain that not just me, but other leaders now know well that it was a mistake.”

She noted that former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg had warned back in 2014, soon after the annexation and occupation of Crimea, that “Crimea was just the beginning for Russia, and they will continue, specifically in Ukraine, and we need to do everything possible to stop them.”

But Adamová said Schwarzenberg’s stance was just one voice, while most leaders at the time advocated only limited sanctions.

“For Russia, it of course looked like weakness, and that’s why they decided to do what they did, what they still keep doing,” she said.

Adamová made the remarks in an interview ahead of Prague hosting a summit of the Crimean Platform parliamentary track on October 23. She stressed the importance of the event in demonstrating continued unity with Ukraine.

The Crimean Platform is an initiative launched by Ukraine in 2020 to coordinate international efforts on returning the peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, to Ukrainian control.

Potential new members joining the Platform at the Prague summit include Japan and New Zealand, who Adamová said may contribute video addresses if unable to send representatives in person. She voiced hope that the United States might also find a way to participate.

Adamová argued that Ukraine needs to win the war first before Crimea can be de-occupied. She reiterated Czech commitments to keep supporting Ukraine militarily and otherwise until the conflict’s end.

According to the speaker, it is difficult to quantify progress toward freeing Crimea on a scale of 1 to 100. While the situation now looks hopeless, she said it is important to keep up hope and determination, recalling that her own country was occupied by the Soviet Union for over 20 years.

Adamová stated that the Platform’s parliamentary summit will focus on political and human aspects, expressing solidarity with activists reporting ongoing human rights violations in occupied territories.

She mentioned the “terrible crime” of Russian abductions and forced transfers of Ukrainian children, with around 19,000 estimated affected so far. Adamová said a charitable collection will be held during the Platform summit to aid psychological help for these and other children impacted by the war.

Questioned about recent statements by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán casting doubt on Ukraine’s EU membership prospects before the end of the conflict, Adamová said she was “really disappointed” but not surprised given Russian influence in Hungary. She firmly rejected Orbán’s position.


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