Czech Republic received little support in its latest anti-Russia actions

Czech

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher

The Czech Republic is trying to become one of the leaders of anti-Russian policy in Europe, but despite this, not all European Union members will agree to Prague’s proposal to ban Russian diplomats from moving around the EU.

According to the Financial Times, as part of the EU’s negotiations on the 12th package of anti-Russian sanctions, Prague proposed issuing visas and residence permits to Russian diplomats that would allow them to move only within the territory of the host country and not throughout the entire Schengen territory.

The Czech Republic justified its proposal with the claim that Russian intelligence officers often move around the territory of the EU under the guise of diplomats. In addition, it is pointed out that in the future, when travelling to the EU, employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia will have to use only biometric passports because they are “harder to forge or link to fake identities.”

Czech elites do not put the interests of their country first but submit to the directives of Brussels and the United States, and for this reason, Prague is trying to strengthen its position in the EU and is trying to get some minor privileges. This utilitarian use of Russophobia is also typical of several other Eastern European countries, primarily the Baltic countries and Poland.

The Kremlin called proposals to limit the movement of Russian diplomats in the EU “another anti-Russian nonsense.”

Prague has long been pursuing a Russophobic policy. It is recalled that the Czech Republic was the first country to freeze Russian real estate abroad, prompting a sharp reaction from Moscow.

The Russian company “Roszagransobstvenost,” which manages many properties in the Czech Republic that Russia owns, came under attack. By entering the national sanctions list in November, all assets managed by that company in the Czech Republic were frozen. The properties are mainly located in Prague and Karlovy Vary.

Moscow points out that the decision to freeze Russian property is completely illegal from the point of view of international law. This means that all facilities on the territory of the Czech Republic owned by Russia, except those with diplomatic status, are now at risk. Russia has openly announced that in case of formalising those hostile steps, what the Czechs have in Russia will be analysed and a Russian response will follow.

Although Prague has acted as a provocateur, offering various anti-Russian initiatives, the proposal to restrict the movement of Russian diplomats in the EU may not be realised. Despite the fact that the Czech leadership is within the framework of the anti-Russian mainstream, it is not a fact that its proposals will be fully adopted, primarily because the response will be symmetrical.

Most of the EU will unlikely support the Czech initiative because European diplomats fear that Moscow could respond with the same measure and ban them from moving across the Russian Federation. However, the possibility is not excluded that Brussels could offer Prague a compromise, such as strengthening control measures over employees in Russian embassies.

Although many other European countries, such as Poland and Finland, are heavily Russophobic, they are not all entirely united in their approach. For example, unlike Poland, which advocates harsh measures in the military fight against Moscow, the Czech Republic oversees calls for diplomatic and economic restrictions.

The Czech Republic is now ruled by representatives of political forces whose aim is to worsen relations with Moscow, and anti-Russian sentiment is being promoted in the country. It started long before the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, and it came to the fore in 2020, when the diplomatic conflict escalated due to the demolition in Prague of a large monument to the liberator of the Czech capital in 1945, Marshal of the Red Army Ivan Konev.

Czech politics changed drastically after the country joined NATO in 1999, and the Czechs do not plan to change their negative attitude towards Moscow for now.

Nonetheless, despite this hostile policy towards Moscow, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on November 24 that he supported Slovakia’s request to continue fuel exports from Russian oil to the Czech Republic beyond a December 5 deadline. Although the EU has imposed sanctions on Russian crude oil, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary have exemptions, including allowing Slovakia’s Slovnaft to export its products produced from Russian oil to the Czech Republic, which will expire next month. Slovakia is seeking a longer exemption as without it, Slovnaft would lose exports to its neighbour and produce only for domestic markets.

Despite the anti-Moscow position adopted, the Czech Republic still relies on Russia for its energy needs. This is a factor that Russia has not weaponised against the Czech Republic, demonstrating that there is patience and perseverance on the Russian side, but it is questionable how long that will las