MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called on Russia to “slow down” Russia’s attacks on Ukraine immediately. It is about “a frontal attack on the principles and values of Europe”, in particular those of “peace”.
Sánchez accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing a “blatant violation” of international law. The prime minister warns that this “should not go unpunished”. Spain, he assures, will defend international legality, and “will make every effort to restore peace and show solidarity with the affected populations”.
Sánchez made an institutional statement in La Moncloa on Thursday. He did so after participating in the extraordinary meeting of the National Security Council. King Felipe VI was chairman and the meeting lasted about two and a half hours.
According to reports by the national broadcaster TVE, the executive branch is ruling out sending troops to Ukraine “as a country”. On the other hand, this is an option when it comes to “joint” action with NATO. Something that is not being considered at the moment.
‘Nuclear force violates international law’
The president opened his speech with a “complete and utter” condemnation of Putin’s “unacceptable military actions”, facts that, while “very serious”, are at the same time “very simple”: “A nuclear power has violated international law and has started to an invasion of a neighbouring country.”
Crisis with ‘far-reaching consequences’
Furthermore, Sánchez argued that this crisis will go beyond the countries involved, with “far-reaching consequences” internationally. For this reason, he remembered the words of UN President Antonio Guterres, who asked Putin to withdraw the troops and end the conflict.
“We are committed to peace, but if we want it to be effective, we must stop this aggression as soon as possible,” the head of state warned. Sánchez defended the first EU sanctions package against Russia. With this, it is hoped to “stop Putin’s first attacks”. Some sanctions, he said, to show Putin that these attacks “must not go unpunished”.
Prime Minister warns of “economic impact” in Spain
The Spanish Prime Minister also warns that this conflict in Ukraine will “have an economic impact” in Spain and in the EU”, especially in energy markets where the effects are already being felt” (Europe is largely dependent on gas coming from Russia). “We will take as many measures as necessary to mitigate the economic impact, including energy impact, on Spanish society,” he promised.
“For many weeks we were in contact with our partners and allies to provide a coordinated and unified response to this crisis.” The prime minister also indicated that Spain “stands in solidarity” with the peoples attacked in Ukraine. According to him, the EU can best help “with financial aid, with investments, and with medical supplies”.
“Spain’s position is very clear,” said the prime minister. Spain has “to the utmost” supported the diplomatic path to prevent “the escalation of war”. “At the same time, we emphasised together with Europe that we would not accept unjust, unjustified aggression and that we would punish it,” he added.
‘Clear and sharp message to Putin’
For this reason, he sent a “clear” and “sharp” message to Putin’s government: “Call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, to withdraw recognition of independence” of the two regions east of Ukraine (Lugansk and Donetsk ) and that it “delivers on its obligations” to the Minsk Accords.
Finally, he said that “two avenues are open to Spain and to the whole EU”, that of peace and international legality, or that of “the illegitimate force that only leads to disorder and uncertainty in the world”. “We are a country, a democracy, a union committed to the values of peace, international legality, and solidarity,” he concluded.
Spaniards in Ukraine
Government sources say there are still just over 320 Spaniards in Ukraine. There is contact with them and they can return whenever they want and can. Most of them don’t want to go back to Spain. In recent hours, about a hundred Spaniards have returned from Ukraine to Spain.
All sides unanimously condemn Russian attacks
In Spain, the condemnation of the Russian attack is unanimous, not only in the coalition government but also among the various political parties. Many members expressed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, especially on Twitter.
Reaction ministers on war in Ukraine
Of the executive branch, Yolanda Díaz (Second Vice-President and Minister of Labor), José Manuel Albares (Foreign Affairs), and Alberto Garzón (Consumer Affairs) respectively condemned the “under grievous”, “unjustified” and “imperialist” aggression. Ione Belarra (Social Rights) said that “war is never the way”. They also showed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Response Unidos Podemos
Unidos Podemos repeated the motto ‘no to war’, as the party did with the war in Iraq. “I want to express my strong condemnation of the Russian attack on Ukraine. Peace is the way. No to war. We demand the immediate end of this armed conflict. Russia is attacking Ukraine,” deputy Juan López de Uralde said on Twitter.
Reaction opposition on Ukraine war
Among the opposition, Pablo Casado, still chairman of the PP, and Inés Arrimadas (Cs) offered their “support” to Sánchez. Casado called for a “coordinated response with the EU and NATO”. Arrimadas also called for “a strong, coordinated and intelligent response from the EU”: “I ask Sánchez that the voice of Spain be strong, determined and decisive in all coordinated responses to this aggression”.
The only national leader who has not commented on the Ukraine situation is Santiago Abascal. His party Vox did show on Twitter its “strong condemnation of the military attack”. This was accompanied by criticism: “We must not fail to point out the failure and irresponsibility of the European Commission. Spain must demand that Russia stop the attacks and endorse the diplomatic solution of the conflict.”
Mas Pais and Compromise on war in Ukraine
Íñigo Errejón (Más País), opted for “a proportionate and autonomous response from the EU. A response committed to de-escalating the conflict and reducing damage to the civilian population”. He also asked Spain to take in refugees from Ukraine, as did Joan Baldoví (Compromís). He pointed out that it is not necessary to “follow closely what the US says” but to make “a firm commitment to diplomatic measures”.
Response PNV and JxCat
Aitor Esteban (PNV) said that “we cannot pretend that nothing is wrong” and that Europe “must rethink its defense strategy”. Finally, Miriam Nogueras (JxCat) said that “Putin’s tyranny should be severely punished” and asked for “unanimous votes”: “Armed conflict is worrying, serious and unacceptable in the 21st century.”