Spain urges NATO partners to avoid conflict over Leopard 2 tanks

NATO allies should remain united and avoid confrontation and division, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles said Monday in reference to the recent spat between Poland and Germany over the sending of modern German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

In a statement to the media after attending the presentation of the new drone unit of the Spanish Military Emergency Unit (UME), Robles of the ruling socialist PSOE party responded to several questions related to the Spanish position on the debate.

Asked whether the Spanish government fears that its left-wing ally in government, Unidas Podemos, could block the country from sending Leopard armoured vehicles in the future, Robles reiterated that all the material sent by Spain to Kyiv has a defensive purpose.

“And that is where we are going to continue: supporting legitimate defence”, she stressed.

Robles assured that Spain will continue to support Ukraine in a “firm” and “committed” manner, but always with the “utmost discretion”, responding to Ukraine’s “express” requests and in “full” coordination with NATO and allied countries.

“Certain material cannot be sent in isolation, it has to be done in coordination with all the allies”, she reiterated.

However, the minister avoided answering the question of Spain’s eventual shipment of its Leopard tanks to Ukraine, although she did point out that the 40 Leopard tanks stored in its military base in Zaragoza have not been used for a long time and need a few repairs and updates.

As for whether Spain is going to train Ukrainian military personnel to operate Leopard tanks, Robles explained that Madrid has so far provided training “in everything Ukraine has asked us for” and “for the moment” has not requested it.

Spanish media has been speculating over Spain possibly updating its Leopard tanks in case Berlin greenlights a joint pan-European shipment to Ukraine.

“Behind the decisions on the (defence) material that is sent (by Spain), as well as unity and coordination, there is a clear position: Ukraine is defending itself and all of these shipments respond to a strategy of helping the defence of Ukraine, which is the defence of saving human lives”, she added.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)

Source: euractiv.com

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