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Slovakia’s former Prime Minister Robert Fico will return to office after his party signed a deal Monday to form a three-party coalition government, a move that has raised concerns about Slovakia’s support of Ukraine and its relations with the European Union, the Associated Press reported.

Already, new aid has been paused, Bloomberg reported.

The agreement comes more than a week after Slovakia’s parliamentary elections saw Fico’s populist Direction – Slovak Social Democracy party (SMER-SSD, or Smer) win nearly 23 percent of the vote, even as it failed to secure a majority in the 150-seat legislature.

The new coalition is made up of Smer, the left-wing Hlas and the pro-Russian Slovak National Party – together holding 79 seats. Under the coalition deal, Smer will appoint the prime minister and six other ministers, opening the way for Fico to return as Slovakia’s head of government for the fourth time.

It’s unclear when President Zuzana Čaputová will swear in the new government.

Fico campaigned on pro-Russian and anti-immigrant messages: He said he would withdraw Slovakia’s military support for Ukraine and protect the country against illegal migration increasing again across Europe.

He added, however, that he wants Slovakia to remain a member of the EU and NATO – but with “full respect” for the country’s sovereignty.

Observers and critics have expressed concerns that Fico’s victory could see Slovakia aligning more closely with Hungary, potentially causing discord with the EU and other Western nations that are seeking unity in supporting Ukraine, according to Reuters.

This shift could further reinforce a broader regional trend of moving away from political liberalism, particularly if Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party wins parliamentary elections this weekend.

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