Sánchez rectifies to shore up “unity” against Russia and will send weapons to Ukraine

  • The president justifies the turn given the doubts generated by the “commitment” of Spain, but his decision tenses the Executive and divides United We Can

  • In their team they defend that There’s no difference” between channeling the contribution through the EU or directly, because it is “to help” to the Ukrainians

Change. Turn. Pedro Sánchez retraces his steps and yes, he agrees to deliver weapons directly to Ukraine, so bilateral, as well as through the European Union. The president rectifies his position, the one he had maintained in the last two days, even at the cost of arousing tension with Podemos —not with Yolanda Díaz, who does support him—, and gives in to shore up the “Unit“of all the groups in front of the”satrap” Vladimir Putin. Spain joins the vast majority of countries in the Union and NATO that have decided to send combat material to help the Ukrainian Army. The Government knew, as several ministers recognized, that it could not stay in line in that sample of “support and solidarity” towards Kyiv.

The head of the Executive defended on Monday in an interview on TVE that the contribution of weapons to Ukraine would be made through the European Peace Support Fund (FEAP), of which Spain is its fourth donor. He understood that a “coordinated” action with the EU was the most suitable path, and not a “summary” of initiatives from each country. On Tuesday, the spokeswoman, Isabel Rodríguez, insisted on the same arguments: the delivery would be made within the European mechanism.

“But, as I see that there are groups that question the commitment of the Government of Spain, and for me and for the Government the unity of all is so important, so fundamental, I announce that Spain will hand over offensive military material to the Ukrainian resistance“, Sánchez justified before the plenary session of Congress this Wednesday. He had just solemnized an evident change of position that colonized his entire appearance and that immediately upset Podemos. The shipment of weapons, however, received the support not only of the PP and of Cs, but from regular members of the Executive such as ERC, Compromís, Más País or the PNV, and rejected by Bildu, the CUP or the BNG.

In the spirit of the Executive, it has also weighed that the EU and NATO partners have supported the bilateral shipment, from which Hungary has disassociated itself from the far-right Víktor Orbán

The turn was decided on Tuesday in the Government. The question was obvious: why? “I listened to you,” the president replied to the new coordinator of the popular party, Cuca Gamarra, “and we review that position, so that there is no doubt. It is not that one or another opinion conditions me [en referencia a las reticencias de Podemos]I am conditioned by all the opinions of your honorable Members, because my task, my work, is to defend the unity of Spain, the unity of Europe”. Sánchez underlined that the “decisive step“It was operated over the weekend, when the EU changed the nature of the aid fund for peace, by reserving 450 million for the purchase of offensive material. A step that Spain supported from the outset through the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares Just like now, the Executive will promote in the EU and in the OECD the declaration of Russia as a tax haven, including Moscow in the list of tax havens.

The offense “evolves every day”

Executive sources recall that all countries they have been turning in record time, and the paradigmatic case is Germany. “And we have been selling weapons for a long time without problems,” they point out. The Russian Offensive”evolves every day“, explained already at night on Antena 3 the head of Defense, Margarita Robles, and forces Spain and each EU member country to change their decisions to “deal with this unacceptable aggression”. The minister announced that Two planes will be sent on Friday with a first shipment of offensive military material to Ukraine, with 1,370 anti-tank grenade launchers, 700,000 cartridges for rifles and machine guns, as well as light machine guns, reports EFE.

On Friday, two planes will be sent with a first shipment, with 1,370 anti-tank grenade launchers, 700,000 cartridges for rifles and machine guns

In Sánchez’s environment they emphasize that in the end There’s no difference” between channeling the delivery through the EU or bilaterally, because the result is the same: “Help a population without the capacity to defend itself” and that it does so “on equal terms”, in the words of the socialist leader. “It’s not even a complementary decision. There are two facets, two shipping formulas. The dilemma is whether you are for or against sending combat material, you are not in favor of it just a little bit. The rest is hypocrisy,” they allege in the Government.

The goal is “to help a population without the ability to defend itself”, to show “support and solidarity” and to improve Ukraine’s “negotiating capacity”.

It has also weighed on the spirit of the Executive, a minister assumed, that the community and NATO partners were, one after another, announcing direct aid to Kiev. Even neutral and pacifist states like Sweden and Finland. “We were left and little else,” recognized another member of the Cabinet. The Hungary of the far-right Víktor Orbán was expressly removed from this dynamic, another argument that the Executive notes and that demonstrates, initial sources of first level, the “justice of the measure”. In Foreign Affairs and in Moncloa, it is denied that Sánchez acted under pressure from his European counterparts: he did it in a way “autonomous“.

“The policy of the EU and of Spain is not going to revolve around sending weapons, it is not that we have a warlike ardor right now, but we had to do something to show support and solidarity with the Ukrainians and for them to defend themselves minimally”, indicate diplomatic sources, who add that from the military point of view it is about sending a message to Putin: that the war be “expensive“, which assumes financial wear and doors inside Russia. With this joint action, which serves in the first instance to help the Ukrainian Army and to arm the population, the same sources continue, it contributes to “improve negotiating position” from Kiev to Moscow.

A “long” crisis

History, in turn, illuminates. What happened in Spain less than a century ago, in the Civil War. They remembered him in Foreign: “The Second Spanish Republic did bad asking Western democracies for weapons? The abandonment they had towards Spain remained in the history of infamy”. The error, therefore, could not be repeated this time in an “illegal” war and sponsored solely by Putin’s imperialist ambitions, which he has perpetrated, as condemned by the chief of the Executive, a “brutal attempt to stop the construction of a political space, the European one”.

Sánchez informed Díaz of the change in position, and Albares also transferred it to Belarra. The vice president supports the decision and distances herself from Podemos

Once the change was decided, Sánchez communicated it to the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, who did not object. The commons are aligned with her and, according to her environment, Alberto Garzón, federal coordinator of IU. Albares was in charge of transferring it to the general secretary of Podemos, Ione Belarra, who expressed her disagreement. The fissure did not stop the president. The fracture in his Cabinet was evident at the end of his first speech: the image of the standing applause of his bench and the socialist ministers, Díaz, Garzón and Joan Subirats contrasted with the clapping, but seated, of the ministers Ione Belarra and Irene Montero. “The ‘no to war’ isn’t just no to the Iraq war, it’s the ‘no to Putin’s warSánchez alleged before the purples, acknowledging the “discrepancy” with them and underlining his “mistake” to his spokesman, Pablo Echenique.

In Sánchez’s direct environment they stressed that he had threaded in Congress a “state” speech, “brave and necessary”presided over by that offer of “Unit international, European and within Spain”. And that had been the engine of the change of criteria. Because he also demanded “unity” from the groups for the plan of economic and social measures devised to mitigate the sure impact of the war in Ukraine, especially in the energy markets, a battery of measures that advanced in the plenary session and that still have to be landed.

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The president left the Chamber after six hours of intense but not tense debate. In the backpack he carried the support, with more or less nuances, of the majority of the groups for a crisis that he ventured “long“. With the division in tow, also, within United We Can.

The differences between bilateral shipping and across the EU

Last Sunday, the EU adopted assistance measures for Ukraine under the european peace support fund (feap)created in 2021. The aid package, from 500 million euros, will finance the provision of equipment and supplies to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. For the first time, funds will be allocated to the contribution of lethal teams (450 million), in addition to an item reserved for defensive and humanitarian material (50 million). As diplomatic sources explained to this newspaper, with that money the EU purchase from countries, in a coordinated mannerthe combat material that Kiev needs, and then gives it to them.

Bilaterally, the result is the same, the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. But in this case it is each nation that sends it directly, without passing through Brussels and without the need to coordinate with the EU, although the latter did provide the Twenty-seven over the weekend with a list of the war material that Kiev needs. In Foreign Affairs they explain it with an example: humanitarian aid can be provided by the EU, drawing on the aid provided by the States, but then Spain, on its own, can send material (it has already done so, actually) through the Agency Spanish International Cooperation for Development (AECID). That is, the help arrives in Ukraine in two ways, but with the same result.

Of the 500 million from the European mechanism, Spain is the fourth contributor. It contributes 8.7% of the total: around €40 million. Through bilateral shipment, Madrid can send material without a financial limit, a ceiling that the EU does have.