Croatian lawmakers on Friday rejected a government bid for the country to help train Ukrainian soldiers as part of a European Union mission.

The vote in parliament was held after Croatia’s president previously had refused to sign off on the proposal, saying it was not in accordance with the Constitution.

President Zoran Milanovic has been an outspoken critic of Western policies in Ukraine. He has advocated that Croatia offer only humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.

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The EU Assistance Mission Ukraine was established in October, envisaging that the 27-nation block’s countries offer various forms of support and training to Ukraine.

Croatia was to host up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers in the country while about 80 Croatian instructors would travel abroad to help train Ukrainians in other EU countries.

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic speaks during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021, in New York City. Croatian lawmakers rejected a bid for the country to help train Ukrainian soldiers on Dec. 16, 2022. President Milanovic has been a critic of Western policies in Ukraine and has advocated for his country to only offer humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic speaks during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021, in New York City. Croatian lawmakers rejected a bid for the country to help train Ukrainian soldiers on Dec. 16, 2022. President Milanovic has been a critic of Western policies in Ukraine and has advocated for his country to only offer humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The government needed a two-thirds majority in parliament to get such a decision approved. The proposal did not pass because 97 out of parliament’s 151 members backed it — four fewer than needed. Ten lawmakers were against while the rest abstained or weren’t present during the vote.

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Opposition parties have said the vote was political and the result of a spat between Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Milanovic, who often clash over various issues.

“It’s a choice between Ukraine and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” Plenkovic said ahead of the vote. “Croatia for years has been a member of NATO and the EU, it is not neutral or non-aligned,”

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Croatia is the newest EU member after joining in 2013. The country went through a war in 1991-95 after declaring independence from the former Yugoslavia.

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