Spain’s armed forces will soon begin training Ukrainian combat troops, military sources confirmed to El Mundo on Friday.
The newspaper revealed that the personnel have been preparing to instruct their counterparts from Kiev in the use of battle tanks, missile systems, military medicine, and demining work.
Friday’s news comes in the wake of a meeting between Ukrainian Ambassador Sergey Pohoreltsev and Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles, in which the former specifically requested demining training. The diplomat has previously expressed dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of assistance delivered by Madrid.
The Ukrainians will be trained on the same weapons they will later use in real combat while also making use of the Spanish Army’s simulators and transport resources, the sources said. Training will take place primarily in the military’s Zaragoza facilities, where some 600 wounded Ukrainian soldiers are already being treated by Spanish doctors. The military plans to build on the network of collaboration and translation that has already grown up between the two groups, adding more Spanish-speaking interpreters from Ukraine in an effort to ensure the training goes smoothly.
Meanwhile, a shipment of Spanish weapons promised to Kiev last month has begun to arrive, including 20 M113 armored vehicles, an Aspide anti-aircraft battery, and several tons of artillery shells and shelter material. Madrid hopes the delivery will ease a point of friction between the two nations as Spain had previously promised certain items that were not delivered.
The Treaty of the European Union prohibits military missions within the EU, but as with the restrictions on providing arms to countries involved in combat, the rule has been modified in light of the perceived need to supply the Ukrainian war effort. NATO allies Germany, France, Denmark and the UK have all participated in training Ukrainian soldiers since Russia sent troops to the country in February.
Defense Minister Pedro Sanchez announced an increase in military aid to Ukraine last month, vowing to provide air defense missiles, armored vehicles, ammo, military advisers, and warm clothing. This, he said, fulfilled Madrid’s commitments to the Ukrainian people’s right to defend themselves.
Ukrainian Ambassador Pohoreltsev appeared to disagree, telling Spanish media, “I cannot say that we are satisfied, nor that we are receiving everything that Spain could supply.”