The Czech Republic's top two officials have clashed over the country’s support for European Union sanctions against Russia.
In an address to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on October 10, President Milos Zeman questioned the effectiveness of the sanctions that were imposed following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
Zeman said that Moscow’s move was a “fait accompli” and that there should be dialogue over Russian compensation to Ukraine, possibly with gas, oil, or money.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka swiftly rejected Zeman’s comments, saying they were "in sharp contradiction of our foreign policy" and that the president "had no mandate" to make the speech.
The Ukrainian delegation attending the speech walked out halfway through it.
A representative in attendance for the Russian government said that while the Kremlin welcomes Zeman’s recognition of the status of Crimea as a "done deal," the region "is not the subject of haggling or transactions."
Russia seized Crimea in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegal by dozens of countries. It also backs separatists in a war that has killed more than 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.