The president of Croatia said Tuesday that the country would not be sending troops if tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to escalate, a statement that was later contradicted by the country’s foreign minister, Politico Europe reported.
President Zoran Milanović, a Social Democrat, said on Tuesday that the country would not be sending troops to the region if tensions continue to simmer.
“Croatia will not send any troops in case of an escalation. On the contrary, it will recall all troops, to the last Croatian soldier,” Milanović said while at a confectionery factory on a visit, according to the news outlet, which cited several media reports.
Milanović noted that the developments were happening in the “antechamber of Russia,” adding that “one must reach a deal that will take account of the security interests of Russia.”
But Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman, affiliated with the country’s major center-right party, disputed the president’s comments, saying that Croatia remained loyal to NATO and that the president didn’t serve as the voice of Croatia, Politico Europe reported.
“The president does not speak for Croatia, but for himself. We are and will remain a loyal member of NATO. Everything we do, we do in consultation with our partners,” Grlić-Radman said to a journalist with the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Croatia became part of the military alliance in 2009.
Croatia’s defense ministry is in charge of NATO deployments, which must be approved by the country’s parliament, Politico Europe noted, sparking even more confusion about Milanović’s comments.
The announcement comes amid heightened tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the latter of which has amassed tens of thousands of troops near the border. The U.S. and its European allies are concerned that Russia is readying itself for a military invasion.
President Biden told journalists on Tuesday that no American forces would be moving into Ukraine. His comments came one day after the Pentagon announced that it was readying 8,500 troops to possibly deploy to Eastern Europe.
“There is not going to be any American forces moving into Ukraine,” the president said.
He said it depended on “what Putin does or doesn’t do” when asked about what it might take to have those troops deployed.
“Everyone from Poland on has a reason to be concerned about what would happen and what spillover effects could occur,” Biden noted. “We have no intention of putting American forces or NATO forces in Ukraine. But … there are going to be serious economic consequences if he moves.”