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26 Apr, 2024 18:30

Spain buckling to EU pressure on Patriots for Ukraine – El Pais

Interceptor missiles will reportedly be sent, as there are no launchers to spare
Spain buckling to EU pressure on Patriots for Ukraine – El Pais

Madrid will send Kiev missiles for the Patriot air defense system, due to intense pressure from the EU and NATO, the daily El Pais has reported, citing government sources.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has demanded six US-made launchers from NATO, one of them being a Spanish system currently deployed to the Turkish-Syrian border, according to the outlet. Madrid has refused, but will instead transfer “a small number” of missiles to Kiev instead.

Spain operates only three Patriot batteries, purchased in used condition from Germany between 2004 and 2014. One of them has been deployed near the Turkish city of Adana since 2013, while the other two are in Valencia. One of those is actually being used to train Ukrainian soldiers in operating the system, El Pais said.

The newspaper’s sources did not say how many missiles Spain intended to send, only that Madrid keeps a “war reserve” of about fifty and that they are very expensive, costing about a million euros apiece. Spain is also planning to refurbish ten more Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks and send them to Ukraine, in addition to the ten delivered last year.

The Spanish Defense Ministry wants to buy four of the newest Patriot models, the PAC-3. Last October, the US greenlit the potential sale, valued at €2.6 billion ($2.78 billion), but the government in Madrid has not yet approved the contract. Under the best circumstances, the new batteries would not be available until 2028 at the earliest.

Supplying other air defense systems to Ukraine is “problematic,” according to the outlet, because Spain has none to spare. Madrid only has four NASAMS batteries, with one permanently stationed in Latvia and another on rotation in Estonia. Ammunition for the 12 Hawk launchers provided to Ukraine has long run out, as it is not being manufactured anymore. The Spanish government has already agreed to prioritize deliveries of domestically produced ammunition to Kiev, over replenishing the “almost empty” army arsenals, said El Pais.

Germany has just announced it would send another Patriot battery – the third so far – to Ukraine, while the Netherlands said it would be willing to fund the purchase of interceptors from third countries. Greece has been under pressure to send some of its Patriot launchers as well, though Athens has not yet given in.

Pressure on the European members of the US-led bloc has lessened somewhat after the US Congress passed the $61 billion bill to fund Ukraine, according to the Spanish daily.

Russia has repeatedly said that new deliveries of weapons to Ukraine won’t change the battlefield dynamic and will only result in more needless Ukrainian deaths.