Translated article from El País
Spain is willing to make a qualitative leap in its military support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, according to government sources. If until now it had delivered ammunition, individual protection equipment and light weapons (C-90 grenade launchers or machine guns), now it is preparing the supply of heavy weapons, with anti-aircraft missiles and Leopard battle tanks, and the essential training of the Ukrainian military so that can take over their management.
The Ministry of Defense is already finalizing the delivery to kyiv of a battery of low-level Shorad Aspide anti-aircraft missiles, which the Spanish Army has replaced with another more advanced system. The shipment of this material, produced by the European missile company MBDA, is pending completion of the negotiations through a cell in Stuttgart (Germany) that is in charge of coordinating military aid to Ukraine to avoid lack of equipment and duplication of others.MORE INFORMATION
The Spanish Government is also willing to deliver to Ukraine the Leopard A4 combat tanks that have been hibernating for a decade at the logistics base of the Spanish Army in Zaragoza. These tanks are part of the batch of 108 second-hand units that Germany sold to Spain in 1995, as a prelude to the Leopard manufacturing contract in Spain. Defense’s intention was to convert them into recovery cars for engineers but, given the lack of budget, they opted to subject them to a dehumidification process (remove batteries, oils and any other element that could deteriorate them) and leave them in storage.pending availability of funds in the future. Defense sources estimate that some 40 cars could be rehabilitated and delivered to the Ukrainian Army, but they warn that this would require subjecting them to a fine-tuning by an industry that is unlikely to undertake these works at a time when it rains calls for the general increase in military spending in Europe.
Instruction in Latvia
In addition, Spain has offered Ukraine to instruct its military in the handling of these battle tanks. The training, according to the sources consulted, would initially take place in Latvia, where the Spanish Army has deployed a contingent of 500 soldiers with six Leopard 2E tanks, within the framework of NATO’s Enhanced Advanced Presence (EFP) operation. In a second phase, the training of the Ukrainian tankers would already be done in Spanish territory, add the same sources. This program would allow the preparation plans of the kyiv Army to be accelerated to equip itself with powerful combat tanks with which to face the modern Russian T-90, since now they only have a center in Germany to be instructed in their handling.What affects the most is what happens closest. To not miss anything, subscribe.
The offer of the missiles and the instruction of the tankers was raised when the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, traveled to Kiev on April 21 and met with President Volodímir Zelenski, but it has been delayed due to the complexity of the operation. , according to the sources consulted. That same day, the ship Ysabel of the Army loaded with 200 tons of ammunition and supports for missiles sailed from El Ferrol. He also had 30 trucks and 10 light vehicles that traveled 800 kilometers along Polish roads to bring the material to the reception base of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. This shipment represented, in the words of Sánchez, “more than double” the material sent until then in 11 military transport flights. On the occasion of the visit this week to Madrid by Igor Zovkva, Zelensky’s adviser, talks have been relaunched to speed up the delivery and expand the list of possible supplies.
At a press conference last Friday, on the occasion of the 100 days since the beginning of the invasion, the Ukrainian ambassador in Madrid, Serhii Pohoreltsev, thanked the military aid provided so far by Spain, but considered it insufficient, warning that the ammunition is only enough “for two hours of combat.” “We are grateful, but we cannot say that we are satisfied,” he stressed.
The diplomatic representative of kyiv asked for heavy weapons (anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, 155-millimeter howitzers or 120-mm mortars), but above all he demanded the delivery of Leopard tanks, even before instructing the Ukrainian military that they must use them. “There is good will from the Spanish Government and the Ministry of Defense about sending instructors to teach the operation of these battle tanks, but the important thing is the tanks,” he stressed. The ambassador insisted that his country does not ask for “anything that Spain cannot contribute” and complained that, according to his reports, Spain presents “one of the lowest rates of military aid [to Ukraine] in relation to its defense budget” .
The diplomat framed his request in the new phase of prolonged war and attrition in which the conflict has entered, with the occupation of 20% of its territory by Russian troops and the destruction of 30% of its infrastructure. And he assured that the Spanish government has shown “indisputable support” for the cause of kyiv and has not perceived “pro-Russian sympathies” within it, despite criticism from the ministers of United We Can to the delivery of military material to Ukraine.
What the diplomat did not object to is the reception in Spain of the 140,000 Ukrainians (women, children and the elderly) who have arrived fleeing the war, of which 116,000 have already obtained international protection status. “The process has been well organized,” he acknowledged.