It seems that the president of Croatia has lost part of his Army. It's not that those soldiers have died: it's that he doesn't know where they are.
Zoran Milanović distances from NATO and says he will withdraw his troops from the area
This Tuesday, president Zoran Milanović openly distanced from NATO, an organization his country joined on April 1, 2009. "As Commander-in-Chief of the Croatian Army, I have been closely following statements indicating that NATO, not a country, not the United States, is increasing its presence and sending some reconnaissance ships. We don't have and won't have anything to do with it, I guarantee it."
Milanović did not stop there, but added: "Croatia will not send troops in the event of an escalation. On the contrary, she will call up all the troops, down to the last Croatian soldier and it has nothing to do with Ukraine, or Russia, it has to do with the dynamics of US domestic politics."
The Milanović party was founded from the League of Communists of Croatia
These statements by the Croatian president are not at all strange. Milanović belongs to the Social Democratic Party of Croatia, a party founded in 1990 from the League of Communists of Croatia, the Croatian branch of the former single party of the communist dictatorship of Yugoslavia.
A socialist president very close to Russia
On the other hand, in 2020 the Croatian outlet Sloboda pointed out Milanović's affinity with Russia and his ties to the powerful Russian state company Gazprom, which began doing business in Croatia in 2013, when Milanović was the country's prime minister (2011-2016). His government was then characterized as very close to Russia. Last year, Radio Sarajevo spoke of "president Milanović's debts to Russian politics, which indirectly contributed to the financing of his campaign" for the presidency.
The Croatian government distances from Milanović's statements
The Croatian president's statements about Ukraine have led him into a confrontation (one more, since it has become commonplace) with the center-right government headed by Andrej Plenković. Let's keep in mind that Croatia is a parliamentary republic, like Germany or Austria, and there the president has a rather symbolic role, compared to countries like the US or France. Yesterday Plenković replied to Milanović: "There are not our soldiers in Ukraine and I do not know what soldiers he is thinking of." The prime minister added: "I apologise to the Ukrainians on behalf of the government," and recalled that "Croatia's policy is to de-escalate tensions, prevent conflicts, support the integrity of Ukraine. That is our fundamental position."
There are no Croatian soldiers in Ukraine, Poland or Lithuania
The fact is that not only are there no Croatian soldiers in Ukraine, but they are no longer in other neighboring countries either. Croatia has had soldiers deployed in two of NATO's eFP Battle Groups, those in Poland and Lithuania. A few days ago, the Croatian detachment in Poland returned to their country. The official account of the Polish eFP Battle Group published a farewell message stating: "Soon we will be welcoming a new Croatian contingent." But for now that contingent has not yet been deployed.
🇭🇷 You can't take the Storm out of the Battery but you can take the Battery out of the storm. 🌨️
Today we said goodbye to Storm Battery, the 8th Croatian contingent and their semi-propelled rocket launchers, M-92 Vulkan. Soon we will be welcoming a new Croatian contingent. pic.twitter.com/oqZJFfF9ty
— NATO eFP BG Poland (@BG_Poland_eFP) January 21, 2022
On the other hand, and as published yesterday by the Croatian media Juntarnji, "Croatia will not send 100 soldiers this year to the NATO mission of reinforced frontal presence in Lithuania." Thus, that medium adds, "Croatia will not have its own troops in Eastern Europe, so it is not clear that the president can withdraw them to Croatia in the event of an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine."
A supreme commander who does not know where his troops are deployed
Although officially the President of the Republic of Croatia is the supreme commander of its Armed Forces, in practice all decisions on military matters are made by the country's government through its Ministry of Defence. In any case, it is still curious and surreal that the highest command of the Croatian military does not know where its soldiers are and from where it may or may not withdraw them if necessary.
Photo: NATO eFP BG Poland.
Don't miss the news and content that interest you. Receive the free daily newsletter in your email:
The mail subscription service to Counting Stars will allow you to receive in your mailbox a daily email with the new posts published in this blog. It is a free service. Once you have entered your email in this box and press the "Click to subscribe" black button, you will receive a confirmation email in your mailbox to activate your subscription. If at any time you want to unsubscribe, you only just have to click the link that you will find at the bottom of each newsletter.