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Volodymyr Zelenski and Pedro Sánchez greet each other after the Ukrainian leader's arrival at Moncloa. EFE
Spain's PM Pedro Sánchez seals historic military deal with Ukraine despite criticism
Politics

Spain's PM Pedro Sánchez seals historic military deal with Ukraine despite criticism

A 1.13 billion agreement was signed in Madrid with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenski, but parliamentary leaders say they were not made aware of the deal

Miguel Ángel Alfonso

Madrid

Tuesday, 28 May 2024

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It is a military aid package unprecedented in Spain's recent history. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenski signed a security cooperation agreement in Madrid on Monday 27 May in which the government undertakes to send Kyiv an arms package valued at 1.129 billion euros.

The package includes missiles and battle tanks, two weapons that, deployed on the battlefield, could be decisive in countering the new offensive launched by Russia in recent weeks by air and land, as well as protecting the civilian population. It came during the Ukrainian leader's second visit - the first official one - to Spain, which included a full agenda that started with a welcome from the King on the tarmac of Madrid's Barajas airport.

But, while Zelenski thanked the Spanish people at the press conference following his meeting with Sánchez for "not looking the other way" since Russia launched its attack on Ukraine just over two years ago, some of the PSOE's parliamentary allies, including Sumar, the government's minority partner, criticised Sánchez for not having taken this international agreement to Congress for ratification.

Not informed

Spokesperson for Yolanda Díaz's party, minister of culture, Ernest Urtasun, described it a "total lack of transparency" and said his party had not been informed beforehand of the agreement. Urtasun acknowledged it was hinted at during a meeting of the council of ministers on 16 April, when an extraordinary agreement was approved to reinforce military capabilities in defence matters with an increase in funding. "It was a very opaque agreement where the destination was not established, and it was not clear what it was for," said the minister of culture.

The issue revived one of the great battles that had plagued the two wings of the government during the last legislature, that of sending military equipment to Ukraine. Podemos, which was then part of the council of ministers under the United Podemos brand, stood up Zelenski during the afternoon visit that the Ukrainian leader made to congress. EHBildu MP Oskar Matute said: "Increasing military spending behind the back of congress only benefits the great powers and the arms industry".

With many of his parliamentary allies wary of the agreement with the Ukrainian president, the fact is that, in addition to military support, the bilateral agreement also includes Spain's participation and support for the peace summit to be held in mid-June in Switzerland, as well as the meeting that will begin to gauge the reconstruction and demining of Ukraine, which will also take place in Berlin next month. For this meeting, Sánchez has already confirmed the presence of the minister of economy, Carlos Cuerpo.

Deliberate attacks

Nevertheless, both sides acknowledged that Spain's aid alone will not be able to shield Ukraine's skies from the more than 3,000 air strikes a month that come from Russia, "and that will increase next month", said Zelenski, who pointed out as an example the attack on a hypermarket in Kharkov, in the northwest of the country, which killed 16 people and wounded 43 others on Saturday. "They were just people doing their weekend shopping in the morning, they were not military targets. It was a deliberate attack," Zelenski said.

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