Spain sends extra troops to NATO countries border with Russia

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish troops on NATO borders with Russia

Defense Minister Margarita Robles has announced the deployment of more Spanish troops to bolster NATO troops deployed in eastern member states bordering Russia. Her message is clear: “We do not accept threats”. 

Earlier, the Spanish minister had already openly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “NATO wants to strengthen the borders of the eastern member states and Spain will undoubtedly contribute to that,” Robles said. The minister is currently in Lebanon to attend the installation of Spanish General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz as Chief Commander of the UN Interim Peacekeeping Force in the aforementioned country (UNIFIL). 

Podemos turns against meddling in conflict 

NATO is currently deploying land, naval, and air forces as a collective defense against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Spanish military participation is not a matter of course for all parties in Spain. For example, Unidas Podemos has strongly criticized the sending of Spanish troops to the conflict area. Spokesperson Javier Sánchez Serna said the party disagreed with the EU’s agreement to supply arms to Ukraine. That would encourage the escalation of the war and only hinder a peaceful solution. 

Joint struggle 

Minister Robles has not yet announced what exactly the Spanish military contribution consists of. However,

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it concerns the reinforcement of the troops that are already present in the Eastern European countries. The minister believes that the borders of all NATO member states must be protected and that it must be clear to President Putin that threats and the use of nuclear routes against alliances such as the EU and NATO are unthinkable. “NATO and the EU must absolutely remain united and impose maximum sanctions,” the minister said. In her view, the Russian president will have to appear in international courts for his actions in Ukraine and the alliances will do everything they can to break off the Russian invasion of Ukraine as soon as possible. 

No troop activation yet 

The Spanish soldiers in the conflict area are currently only there to reinforce the UN troops. When asked, the minister said that rapid activation of the troops is not yet being considered. For the time being, this only concerns strengthening the UN missions. 

Spain currently has 800 troops deployed to UN missions in the border area with Russia: 350 in Lithuania, 150 in Bulgaria, and 300 on ships in the Black Sea. The country has also made fighter planes, ships, and tanks available for the current conflict. 

Also read: Sánchez accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing a “blatant violation” of international law

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