Iceland’s Minister of Infrastructure and chair of the Progressive Party, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, has found himself in the midst of a diplomatic row with the Russian embassy, who have demanded he apologise for remarks he made at a Progressive Party conference last Saturday about Russia, Putin, and the invasion of Ukraine. For his part, Sigurður Ingi is adamant that he will not apologise for what he said until Russia ceases the war.
RÚV reports that during the conference, he recounted growing up during the Cold War and how western European nations felt threatened by the Soviet Union. Today, he said, there is much the same feeling about the Russian Federation.
“Hopefully the war will not last long,” he told his party. “It’s already been too long, and hopefully it will not become bloodier than it already has been. Hopefully this evil will be stopped. Hopefully the Russian people will rid themselves of the villains in the Kremlin who rule the important country that Russia is. Peace is the only acceptable goal.”
The Russian embassy in Reykjavík did not take long to respond, issuing a post on Facebook last Monday in which they said that it was inappropriate for a member of the Icelandic government to call for a change of leadership in Russia. They added that the Russian government was legally and democratically elected by the majority of Russian people, and as such, Sigurður Ingi should apologise for his remarks.
Sigurður Ingi has responded, RÚV reports, saying that countries witnessing the invasion of Ukraine cannot sit quietly by.
“A government that launches a military invasion against its neighbouring country, a military force that harms civilians most of all, cannot expect that democratic countries sit silently by,” he said. “As such, my response is that I can apologise if the Russian army leaves Ukraine, stops these attacks, and the Russian government takes responsibility for the harm it caused.”
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