Bratislava, Slovakia – Four Slovak citizens have received permission to fight alongside Ukrainian forces against Russia, local media reported.
Slovak nationals are legally not allowed to serve in a foreign army, and exceptions can only be given by the president on request and on a case-by-case basis.
The whole process is notoriously difficult and lengthy, with applications sometimes taking weeks or months to be examined by the relevant authorities.
“In these four cases, Ms. President [Zuzana Čaputová] followed the recommendations of the three ministries [of the Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs],” presidential spokesman Martin Strižinec was quoted as saying.
Six other applicants were refused the right to serve in Ukraine to fight against the Russian invasion, Strižinec added.
Andrej Danko, head of the nationalist SNS party, criticised President Čaputová’s decision to grant these four exemptions, claiming that they were “irresponsible” and could constitute a “security risk”.
Slovak media reported in mid-May that the Ministry of Defence had received 35 official requests from Slovaks wishing to fight in Ukraine, while over 100 people had contacted the presidential office to learn more about the administrative process to do so.
In June, a social media post allegedly showed a Slovak citizen in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol fighting for Russia – one of several, according to experts, who illegally joined the Russian armed forces since the start of Moscow’s invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014.
While hard numbers are difficult to come by, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry estimated in March that about 20,000 foreign fighters from over 50 countries had joined the ranks of its International Legion of Defence.
Last month, Russia said that nearly 2,000 of them had already been killed in combat, and that nearly as many had left Ukraine – a claim described by Kyiv as a fabrication.