The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, has placed Spain in forefront of the European Union’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sanchez appealed to his fellow EU leaders that the “strongest message that the international community, and in particular Europe, can send to Putin, to the aggressor power, is unity” adding that the block must “confront a regime that is antagonistic to the values and principles that the EU stands for”
He also called for cross-party unity saying that “it is fundamental that all political parties stand behind the Government of Spain and united with the other EU member states”.
He added that “there is no trade-off between security and freedom. Without security there is no freedom.”
Earlier this week the Spanish Cortes met and gave a standing ovation to the Ukrainian ambassador, Dmytro Matiuschenko, at the opening session.
During the Parliamentary debate the Prime Minister expressed his solidarity with the Russian people, “who will suffer the cost of the war because of the imperialism of their president”, and urged the Russian executive to immediately release all those arbitrarily detained for expressing their opposition to an “unjust and unjustified” war.
The invasion of Ukraine, Sánchez argued, is a “brutal attempt” by Putin to halt the construction of the European political space, “founded on the defence of values radically opposed to the authoritarianism he represents”, such as freedom, peace, human rights, and solidarity.
Spain he said will be stepping up its support by sending “offensive military equipment to the Ukrainian resistance,” and said that “Putin has reminded us that NATO, as an alliance of states for their security, is more necessary than ever”.
Spain is going to increase its contingent in the NATO mission in Latvia by 150 troops, which will take the Spanish contribution to 500 troops.
In addition to joint EU and NATO actions, Spain has sent 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid in two two A400 transport aircraft with personal, defence equipment, and medical equipment to an undisclosed airfield in Poland.
However he warned that although “Spain’s position is firm and resolute”, the consequences for standing up to Russia, “will come at a cost and will require sacrifices.”
The country should brace itself for “economic uncertainty and the significant increase in prices.”
Although Spain is less exposed to Russia for its energy needs and that its “security of supply is guaranteed,” the country could not escape the impact the turmoil in the markets is having on prices.
However, during a flying visit to Madrid by the EU´s supremo, President Ursula von der Leyen, said that Spain may have template for the rest of the EU in the regard of a secure sustainable energy.
“With your impressive share of renewables – and in the national energy mix, the renewable energies play the major role” as well as “with the impressive know-how and the industrial players in the field of renewables.
“Spain can and will play an important role in supplying Europe. For that, we must work, indeed, on the interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the European Union,” she said.
Some 40% of Spain´s gas supply comes from Algeria.
In addition Von de Leyern also underlined that all EU countries will need to step up their assistance to refugees fleeing the war zone.
This week the EU Commission proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directorate which will “offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine”.
Under scheme, those fleeing the war will be granted temporary protection in any EU member state, meaning that they will be given a residence permit, have access to state education and to the labour market.