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Spain against NATO troops in Ukraine – defense minister

France is wrong about deploying instructors to Kiev, Margarita Robles has said

Sending NATO troops to Ukraine would be an unacceptable escalation of the conflict with Russia, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles has said.

Robles spoke on Monday at an event for female diplomats, organized by the German ambassador to Madrid. She addressed Spain’s recent security pact with Ukraine and aid to Kiev.

“We are living in the most dangerous situation since the Second World War,” Robles told the gathering, pointing out that ballistic missiles “know no borders.” 

Commenting on recent remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron – backed by some European NATO members – about possibly sending troops to Ukraine, Robles said Spain is “totally” against it. While Madrid respects the position of Paris, “we must be very careful not to give excuses” to Russia for escalating the conflict, she explained.

While insisting France is “not at war with Russia,” Macron said earlier this month that he was building a coalition with several other countries to send instructors to Ukraine, insisting this was not an escalation.

It has been NATO’s “obsession” from the start of the hostilities to “not escalate” the conflict, while supporting Ukraine, Robles said on Monday.

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The US and its allies have sent Ukraine almost $120 billion worth of weapons, equipment, and ammunition over the past two years, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany, while maintaining that it does not make them a party to the conflict.

The weapons Spain has sent to Ukraine have been entirely defensive in nature, Robles said. Madrid is currently finalizing repairs on a new batch of Leopard main battle tanks, which will be sent to Kiev soon, she said. Spain is also training about 6,000 Ukrainian soldiers. 

“We are already [training them] in hand-to-hand combat,” Robles said, adding that “one of the things we teach them is how to make a tourniquet.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez signed a security pact with Vladimir Zelensky last month, promising Ukraine over €1 billion ($1.08 billion) worth of military aid, plus another €5 billion over the next three years. According to Spanish media, as part of the pact Madrid has pledged to deliver more Patriot air defense missiles, Leopard 2A4 tanks, and ammunition.

Russia has warned the West that its material support for Ukraine risks making them a party to the conflict, while not changing its ultimate outcome.

June 17, 2024 at 10:26PM

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