The Spanish armed forces will soon begin training Ukrainian combat troops, military sources confirmed to El Mundo on Friday.
The newspaper revealed that the personnel were preparing to instruct their Kiev counterparts in the use of main battle tanks, missile systems, military medicines and mine clearance 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 mine clearance training. The diplomat has previously expressed dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of aid provided by Madrid.
The Ukrainians will be trained with the same weapons they will later use in real combat, while also using the Spanish army’s simulators and transport equipment, the sources said. The training will mainly take place in the military facilities of Zaragoza, where some 600 wounded Ukrainian soldiers are already being treated by Spanish doctors. The military plans to build on the network of cooperation and translation already established between the two groups by adding more Spanish-speaking interpreters from Ukraine in an effort to make training run smoothly.
Meanwhile, a shipment of Spanish weapons promised to Kiev last month, including 20 M113 armored vehicles, an Aspide anti-aircraft battery and several tons of artillery shells and shelter material, is beginning to arrive. Madrid hopes the delivery will ease a point of friction between the two countries, 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 the supply of weapons to countries involved in combat, the rule has been changed in light of the perceived need to contribute to Ukraine’s 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 and promised to supply air defense missiles, armored vehicles, ammunition, military advisers and warm clothing. This, he said, fulfilled Madrid’s commitments to the right of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves.
Ukrainian Ambassador Pohoreltsev seemed to disagree, telling Spanish media: “I cannot say that we are satisfied, nor that we receive everything that Spain could provide.”
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