Pedro Sánchez arrives in Kyiv for a meeting with Zelenski

by Lorraine Williamson
Pedro Sánchez in Kyiv -

Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez took off from Madrid on Wednesday afternoon to land in a Polish town near the Ukrainian border. From there, it was a journey of several hours to the capital Kyiv. 

There, Sánchez will meet President Volodymir Zelensky. The Spanish Prime Minister is being protected by officers from the elite unit of the national police. The Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, is also travelling with Sánchez. After the meeting with the Ukrainian President, the three leaders will appear together before the media. 

Pedro Sánchez aims to convey Spain’s support for the Ukrainian people and rejection of Putin’s war. It is about solidarity with the Ukrainian people and with the refugees. Sánchez also has another message for Zelensky: Spain will continue to send humanitarian and military aid. 

Ask for more help 

In his speech to the Congress of Deputies on 5 April, the Ukrainian President asked Spain for ‘more help with weapons and sanctions’. At first, Sánchez was reluctant and refused to send arms bilaterally. In fact, he made a pledge to Unidas Podemos that this would not happen. However, the message he is sending to Kyiv now is that, as long as it is necessary and required, Spanish planes will continue to take off with ‘defensive military material’. This is a term the government uses to avoid being called ‘weapons’. 

‘I will convey to Zelenski the EU’s unconditional commitment to peace,’ he said yesterday. This was during a visit to a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees in Málaga. We will do everything in our power to ensure that peace is achieved in Ukraine as soon as possible. And in the meantime we will logically deploy all humanitarian and military aid’, the government leader said. The Spanish Defence Minister, Margarita Robles, confirmed this statement. 

Since the conflict broke out, more than a dozen flights with defence and other aid materials have taken off from Spain. Minister Robles will also send medical equipment and medicines. At the end of March, an army plane even transported an armoured ambulance to help evacuate the wounded from the cities most affected by the war. 

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Crisis within the coalition 

The decision to send arms to Ukraine sparked another crisis within the coalition government, as Podemos opposed the decision. The Socialists have always said that they respect the positions of each party, but that state policy is determined by the PSOE, the president of the government. 

In line with the EU 

The defence minister said in an interview on TVE that the government’s decisions on sending arms to Ukraine are ‘in line’ with what ‘all European Union countries’ do and that the ‘vast majority of Spanish citizens agree’. A recent opinion poll conducted by Sigma Dos for the newspaper EL MUNDO shows that a majority of Spaniards, 63.2%, are in favour of continuing to send arms to Ukraine to help defend that country. 21.1% reject the sending of material. 

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