The German move to authorised sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine has pushed Spain to join the list of countries that will deliver tanks to support the Ukrainian army. This decision was initially shelved by Sánchez’s administration, not only to see what Germany was going to do, but also because of the variety of opinions within the government.
Félix Bolaños, Minister of the Presidency, said today: "It would not be understood if we were anywhere else. Spain is where it has to be. With Germany, France, Italy and Portugal. Our position is to be with our allies and partners: to help Ukraine. It is a decision that is part of our collaboration within Nato. Widely shared by the country and the Congress."
The issue has resulted in major disagreements from Podemos in Congress. Minister of Defence Margarita Robles, who announced on Monday that Spain was going to decide on sending tanks to Ukraine in coordination with the other allied countries, responded to Podemos that all the military material provided serves to guarantee "legitimate defence" in the face of the Russian offensive.
More details of the operation, which will be coordinated between the ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, will be announced later in the day in a planned conversation between Robles and the allies.
The Spanish army has 108 Leopard 2A4 battle tanks, the model that Ukraine has requested in order to halt the Russian advance and prepare a counter-offensive next spring. These units were leased from Germany in 1995, arrived three years later and were finally purchased in 2005 for some 15 million euros. Of this amount, 53 have been out of service for a decade, when they were parked in the Casetas logistics centre (Zaragoza), in a long-stay warehouse.
At first, these tanks were distributed among the battalions of the mechanised brigades in Cordoba and Badajoz and the training unit in Zaragoza. Units were also sent to Vitoria, Valladolid and Madrid. But with the arrival of the modern Leopard 2E in 2003, manufactured by the Spanish firm Santa Bárbara (now General Dynamics), the veteran German 2A4s in active service were sent to the cavalry regiments in Ceuta and Melilla, in addition to being maintained in the previous units.