Members of the Ukraine border guard service, armed with the Spanish Cetme rifle. SPSU
Spain's Ministry of Defence donates rifles almost a quarter of a century old to Ukraine border guards

Spain's Ministry of Defence donates rifles almost a quarter of a century old to Ukraine border guards

The Spanish army stopped using the Cetme rifle in 1999 due to maintenance and operational problems

Óscar B. de Otálora


Saturday, 2 September 2023, 08:21


Spain has donated some of its old military rifles to Ukraine in a bid to aid the country's defence against the Russian onslaught.

The old Cetme rifle, known in Spain to those who did military service and which disappeared from the Spanish Army in 1999 due to maintenance and operational problems, is one of the weapons now part of Zelensky's arsenal.

The Cetme gets its name from the Centre for Technical Studies of Special Materials, where it was first produced in the 1950s. The aim was for Spain to have its own machine gun, as the isolation imposed by the democratic countries on Franco's dictatorship threatened its arms supply. Initially, the so-called Cetme A, a heavy wood and steel model, was created. This weapon was used in the Ifni war in Morocco. In the 1980s, a more advanced model was created with a smaller calibre - from 7.62 to 5.56 calibre. This Cetme L had a plastic stock and other components.

Aiming problems

Increasingly, maintenance and operational problems were detected in these models. The barrel overheated during firing, making the weapon unreliable and hitting the target an impossible mission. The magazines would also easily jam. In the 1990s, the army decided to discontinue the Cetme and looked for a replacement. It was replaced with the more advanced German-made HK G36.

The Ministry of Defence, when asked by SUR, did not provide any information on how many rifles were sent, or how the shipment was carried out. The government said a meeting was held between Minister Margarita Robles and the Ukrainian State Border Service via videoconference this month.

The Spanish Cetme has only been seen in the parades that the border guards have carried out in the streets of Ukraine.

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