Spanish King promises support to Baltic States against Russian threat

"You Can Count on Spain"

by Lorraine Williamson
Russian threat

During his tour of the Baltic states, Spanish King Felipe VI pledged Spain’s support against the Russian threat. “You can count on Spain as a friend, partner in the EU, and NATO ally,” the king emphasised during a dinner at the Kadriorg Palace in Tallinn, hosted by Estonian President Alar Karis.

The king promised Spanish support for the defense of the Baltic countries in the event of a Russian attack. This commitment is substantiated by the presence of over 4,000 Spanish troops on NATO’s eastern flank. After the summer, Spain will send a NASAMS system to Estonia to protect its airspace.

Russian threat

In Tallinn, Felipe VI visited the port where the aircraft carrier Juan Carlos I is docked for the NATO exercise BALTOPS. Here, the king was briefed on the growing threat from Russia. A Spanish Harrier pilot confirmed the increasingly aggressive stance of the Russians, who conduct low-flying operations over allied ships with their aircraft.

Spanish King expresses appreciation

King Felipe VI praised the crew of the Juan Carlos I for their dedication during their deployment of over three months. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of their presence on NATO’s eastern flank. “If Spain ever needs your help, we can also count on you for the protection of the south,” he said.

Contribution to NATO and economic cooperation

With the king’s visit, Spain also aims to underscore its contribution to NATO in the lead-up to the NATO summit in July in Washington. Spanish President Pedro Sánchez is expected to face criticism there due to Spain’s low defense spending (1.28% of GDP).

While the visit primarily focuses on European security, the Spanish king also pointed to Spain’s economic cooperation with the Baltic states. He mentioned the Rail Baltica project, the future railway that will connect Finland with Poland through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Adjustment to travel itinerary

The Spanish Ministry of Defense announced that Minister Margarita Robles would join the king’s tour in Latvia at the last moment. She will accompany him on a visit to the Adazi base, 120 kilometres from the Russian border, where 650 Spanish troops are stationed. The king began his trip without any government officials, which is highly unusual since the constitution requires all actions of the head of state to be endorsed by the government. The late addition of the Spanish defense minister is an attempt to rectify this.

Also read: Ukrainian President Zelensky visits Spain

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