The war in Ukraine is not only being fought on the ground, but also in cyber space. Spain has raised its cyber security alert to level three and is paying particular attention to cyber attacks from Russia and Ukraine, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles revealed on Wednesday.
Currently, the cyber alert level is still medium-high at three on a scale of five. However, a cybersecurity committee has been set up under the umbrella of the Crisis Committee. This was created at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis in Government Palace Moncloa, under the leadership of the Spanish National Cryptological Centre. This is the specific body in this field that reports to the secret service of the Spanish Intelligence Centre.
More EU and NATO countries involved
Spain is not directly involved in the war in Ukraine. However, like other EU and NATO countries, it has imposed tough economic sanctions on Moscow. Furthermore, it has supplied arms to the government in Kyiv, thus exposing it to reprisals. Moreover, Robles has said she is willing to supply further arms to the Ukrainian authorities. This is despite the fact this move caused tension with Spain’s Podemos party, the minority partner in the coalition government.
‘Within the limits of what Spain has at its disposal if Ukraine needs it. We will send the material we have to help in this heroic defence that the Ukrainians are conducting’. This was stated by Robles on her arrival at the Spanish Congress of Deputies. According to department sources, the minister issued instructions to search the arsenals of the armed forces for new shipment material. However, military commanders maintain that stocks are exhausted and therefore orders should be placed with manufacturers.
Easy to use
Before the defence committee of the Congress, Robles defended that the weapons supplied by to Kiev are ‘easy to use’. Furthermore, they ‘do not require specific training’ and are ‘in good working order’. This is despite numerous insinuations saying the weapons were obsolete. However, Robles has maintained that what was supplied was ‘unused material. It was purchased for our troops and will therefore have to be replaced’. Last weekend, four A400M air force planes left the Los Llanos (Albacete) military base with 1,370 C-90 grenade launchers, 700,000 rounds of ammunition and light machine guns.
Costs not quantified
The minister did not say what the cost of the weapons delivered to Ukraine would be. Instead, she indicated it would be paid from the €450 million fund for defence and €50 million for defensive equipment. This fund is provided by the EU, with Spain being the fourth largest party with €45 million. The minister did point out that the 20 tonnes of personal protective equipment (5,000 ballistic helmets, anti-fragmentation vests and NBC suits) delivered to the authorities in Kiev a week earlier cost €3 million.
Robles defended solidarity with the Ukrainian government, invoking its ‘right to legitimate self-defence’ and stressing that the Russian invasion is only ‘a new link in a long-term development that is not limited to Ukraine’. Robles spoke of the earlier opening of a field hospital near the Ukrainian border. She also left the door ajar for an extension of the Air Force’s deployment in Eastern Europe for aerial policing operations. After the end of the current mission in Bulgaria (with four Eurofighters and 130 soldiers) on 31 March, six more fighters will be deployed in Lithuania for four months from 1 April, and then possibly in Estonia, together with a Germany.
Cost of international missions to rise this year
Robles explained to MPs the international missions of the Spanish Armed Forces, whose total cost in 2021 was €903.4 million. The participation of ships in NATO fleets cost €161.2 million, the deployment of a mechanised group in Latvia €85.2 million, and that of fighter aircraft in Eastern Europe €83.2 million. The most expensive missions were those in Lebanon (€140.2 million), Iraq (€107 million) and Mali (€103 million).
The costs of missions abroad will rise this year, as Spain has decided to reinforce the troops in Latvia with an additional 150 soldiers (to about 500). Also in Lebanon, the costs will increase due to the reinforcement of the Spanish contingent with 110 soldiers and 2 helicopters.