Slovaks fund ammunition for Ukraine in defiance of pro-Russian government

The organisers of a Slovak crowdfunding campaign said they hoped to raise one million euros for ammunition for Ukraine, defying their government's refusal to send military aid to war-torn Ukraine.

Thousands of people have already contributed 575,000 euros since the Peace for Ukraine group launched the initiative on Monday, organisers said.

Since coming to power last year, Prime Minister Robert Fico has halted military aid to Ukraine and advocated peace talks with Russia.

"We, the people of Slovakia, want and can help," said Zuzana Icakova, a representative of the fundraising initiative.

"We want to show that it is not only the government and Robert Fico who are solving this issue," she told AFP.

The organisation plans to channel all funds raised into an international initiative, spearheaded by the Czech Republic, to buy ammunition for Ukraine.

The Czech prime minister said 20 countries had pledged enough funds to buy 500,000 artillery shells for Ukraine outside Europe.

The Slovak Government has not joined the initiative.

Marian Kulic, another Peace for Ukraine representative, said the project was born out of opposition to the government's position on Ukraine.

"We are convinced that many people in Slovakia do not share the rejection of the Czech government's initiative", Kulic said.

Icakova said the group wanted to reach the 1 million euros donated by the Slovenian government last month.

One prominent supporter of the Slovak campaign is Holocaust survivor Otto Simko, who said his own wartime experiences could be applied to events in Ukraine.

The 99-year-old former journalist took part in the 1942 Slovak National Uprising, an attempt to resist German troops during World War II.

"We fought the aggressor, the German occupier... It was impossible to negotiate with them, they had to be defeated," Simko says in a campaign video for the ammunition initiative.

"If I can give just 20 euros to buy a single bullet, I will know that this bullet is in the right hands," he added. / BGNES