EU member ready to supply heavy arms to Ukraine – media
Spain is preparing to deliver its first batch of heavy weaponry to Ukraine, which may include surface-to-air missiles and battle tanks, El Pais reported on Sunday, citing government sources.
According to the media outlet, the Ministry of Defense is currently finalizing the shipment of a battery of Aspide anti-aircraft missiles, which were decommissioned from the Spanish armed forces and replaced by a more advanced system, the paper noted.
Madrid is also reportedly willing to provide German-made Leopard A4 combat tanks to Kiev. Much like in the case of the missiles, the hardware has not been use for active duty for sometime, El Pais explained. Given to Spain by Germany in 1995, the tanks have been gathering dust at a Spanish Army logistics base for the past 10 years.
Defense sources cited in the article indicated that as many as 40 tanks could end up being delivered to Ukraine once they are refurbished and brought back to fighting condition.
The paper also reported that the Spanish government has offered to provide training to Ukrainian personnel in the use of the tanks. According to the article, this would initially take place in Latvia, where 500 Spanish troops and Leopard 2E tanks are deployed as part of NATO forces. Later on, however, the training would be conducted on Spanish soil, unnamed officials told El Pais.
The paper pointed out that so far, Spain has only provided Ukraine with small arms and ammunition.
The turning point was, according to the report, on April 21, when Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez traveled to Kiev and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian ambassador in Madrid, Sergey Pohoreltsev, said last Friday that the light weapons Spain had provided thus far are insufficient. “We are grateful but we cannot say that we are satisfied.”
Pohoreltsev called for the delivery of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, 155-millimeter howitzers, and 120-mm mortars. Topping his wish list were the Leopard tanks. He went so far as to say Kiev would like to get them even before its troops receive the necessary training.
The ambassador insisted that Ukraine is not asking for “anything that Spain cannot contribute.”
Since the start of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine in late February, numerous European nations, as well as the US, UK, and Australia, have been providing Ukraine with weapons and ammunition.
During the first month of the conflict, the shipments consisted mostly of small arms and man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. However, the US and several other countries eventually accepted Kiev’s requests for heavy weaponry, with howitzers and multiple launch rocket systems now being delivered.
Russia has repeatedly condemned the shipments, insisting they only serve to prolong the conflict.