MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced that Spain will supply arms to Ukraine. He makes this turn just 12 hours after insisting the response should be European.
He said, “today the ‘no to the war in Iraq’ is the no to Putin’s war”. Just over a month after agreeing with Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz to keep a low profile, he understands that “the unit” he is so appealing to is demanding this move: “Spain will supply arms to Ukraine’s resistance.”
Controversy over the image that Spain is lagging behind
The head of the Spanish government may have been the last of the EU partners to appear before his parliament to explain Spain’s actions and the position of Spain and the European Union in the war in Ukraine. He did so early Wednesday morning in the wake of a huge controversy over his government’s imaging of lagging behind EU and NATO decisions.
Sanchez corrects his first decision
Sánchez defended himself against these accusations, which were widespread in the opposition. Moreover, 60% of the questions from the press after the last Council of Ministers were about this. The prime minister assumed that it was he who promoted the activation of the European peace mechanism. He also recalled that the €450 million from this fund will be spent for the first time on “buying and supplying weapons” to a third country at war. A country “invaded by Putin unacceptably and incomprehensibly”. He also corrected his first decision: “Spain will hand over weapons to the Ukrainian resistance,” said the prime minister.
‘No to Putin’s war’
“Spain has been fighting for its freedom for forty years. That is why we are affected to see this in a European country,” argued Sánchez. “We are still very much aware of the ‘no to war.’
Podemos not happy
Deputies from Podemos did not welcome the president’s announcement to send weapons. In their view, this violated an agreement. Neither Social Affairs and Agenda 2030 ministers Belarra (Podemos), Montero of Tax Affairs (PSOE), or Garzón of Consumer Affairs (United Left) were happy with the announcement. Vox leader Santiago Abascal went further than that: “You are not trustworthy because your coalition partners are against our international obligations.”
Response in unity to send weapons
Until now, the government had opted for “a European response” to this threat, “which is aimed at Europe”. As Sánchez argued on Wednesday, “High Representative Josep Borrell called for this response in unity, not the sum of individual actions, and we have responded,” Sanchez said. “Since unity is so important to me, I want to announce that Spain will hand over weapons to the Ukrainian resistance.”
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The president did not clarify in what sense, in what way, how many weapons, of what type, or under what circumstances. He neither explained the when, where and why. With this decision, however, he restored his initial position, which others had misunderstood. This again made it difficult for him to maintain the unity of action and position with the opposition.
Support the People’s Party is now of crucial value
The People’s Party’s support of sending arms is of crucial value and importance, according to government sources “in these moments of uncertainty and dire consequences of Putin’s war”. Hence this shift in Sánchez’s announcements.
In her speech, PP MP Cuca Gamarra reiterated this support of her political party. “You are the one who has supported Ukraine the least because you are trapped by your Podemos partners. We will continue to support you, and if your partners fail, don’t worry, we will accompany you on this path”.
Until now, according to the newspaper El Español, there was an agreement in place between the president and the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, to keep a low profile on all things bellicose related to the war in Ukraine.
Sánchez breaks pact to save coalition ‘unity’
This pact from the end of January had to save “the unity” of the coalition. It forced Sanchez not to mention NATO in his institutional statement last Thursday. It also prevented him from asking Congress for troops. On Wednesday, he confirmed that Spain will send 150 additional soldiers to Latvia and soon more soldiers will go to Estonia. But the pact did not withhold the prime minister to buy weapons through the EU. This means that war material is now also coming directly from Spain.