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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (left) and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid. Alamy Stock Photo
Making moves

Spain pledges to send €6 billion in support for Ukraine on eve of recognising Palestine

Zelenskyy said that the agreement covers a wide range of areas of cooperation.

IN A SECOND major diplomatic move in as many weeks, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has today signed a bilateral security deal with Ukraine worth a total of €6 billion over four years. 

The deal, which was signed by the Spanish leader and his Ukrainian counterpart President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Madrid this afternoon, comes on the eve of Spain’s formal recognition of the State of Palestine, an effort made in tandem with Ireland and Norway.

Spain has followed a number of other EU countries in making a bilateral agreement with Ukraine that goes beyond the fund’s committed to Kyiv by the bloc as a whole. That funding has been held up again and again by Hungary, which EU officials said today had blocked another round of support worth €5 billion.

Russia has been making fresh territory gains since it launched a new offensive in the north east of Ukraine earlier this month and Zelenskyy has been pleading for more military support to combat it. 

Today, Russia said its forces had captured two more villages in eastern Ukraine, one in the Donetsk region, and another in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

‘Life-saving support’

In a post on X today, Zelenskyy thanked Spain for its “tangible and truly life-saving support to Ukraine in this time of war”.

According to El Pais newspaper, the deal would include new Patriot missiles and Leopard tanks.

Zelenskyy has already signed bilateral security agreements with several countries including France, Germany and the UK.

“It will allow Ukraine to boost its capabilities including its essential air defence systems to protect its civilians, cities and infrastructure which are still suffering indiscriminate attacks as seen this weekend in Kharkiv,” Sanchez said, referring to a Russian strike on the northeastern city that killed at least 16 people.

According to Zelenskyy, Spain will provide Ukraine with €1 billion in military assistance this year and €5 billion over three years.

Zelenskyy and Sanchez said that the agreement covers a wide range of areas of cooperation, including humanitarian aid, support for Ukraine’s economic recovery and reconstruction, support for Ukrainian reforms needed for EU and NATO membership and sanctions against Russia.

“Today, we also discussed further strengthening of our air defense and ways in which Spain can help,” he said.

“I informed the Prime Minister about the frontline situation and Russia’s attempts to expand the war.”

He added that as Ukraine continues to resist the Russian offensive, agreement’s like the one signed today are “especially important for the sake of greater security and forcing Russia to make peace – by all means”.

Until now, Madrid has only provided limited military supplies to Ukraine.

According to the Kiel Institute – which tracks weapons pledged and delivered to Ukraine since the Russian invasion – Spain has so far committed €330 million in military aid, making it a small contributor on a European level.

By comparison, Berlin, Paris and Rome have committed €18.61 billion, €5.65 billion and €1 billion respectively, while London’s contribution stands at €9.22 billion, the figures show.

Palestinian Statehood 

Yesterday, Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares met with the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister Mohammed Mustafa in Brussels. 

Albares said that recognising Palestinian statehood would be “justice” for the Palestinian people and also the best guarantee of Israeli security. 

Mustafa is due to meet representatives from Spain, Ireland and Norway in Brussels today for further discussions about recognition. 

All three EU states are to formally recognise Palestine tomorrow, having already made announcements to that effect in the last number of days. 

Mustafa said recognition of a Palestinian state addresses “the injustice that has been inflicted on the Palestinian people for decades”.

“We hope that this momentum of recognitions and initiatives will continue,” he said.

Israel has warned the three countries that the decision will have “serious consequences” while Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that the move would be a “reward for terrorism”. 

Israel also summoned ambassadors from Ireland, Norway and Spain last week for a stern reprimand. Writing in The Journal, Taoiseach Simon Harris described the “parading” of ambassadors before TV cameras in Israel as “unacceptable”. 

The majority of UN member states already recognise Palestinian statehood, with the outlier being in Western Europe and anglophone countries like the US, Canada and Australia.  

A host of eastern European states recognised Palestine before joining the EU and while part of the Soviet Union. The only EU country to do so while being a member state is Sweden, which recognised Palestine in 2014.

Includes reporting from AFP.

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