Pedro Sánchez travels to Kyiv on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion and conveys to Zelenski the support of Spanish society

President's News - 2023.2.23

Kyiv (Ukraine)

During the morning, Pedro Sánchez visited the town of Bucha and the neighbourhood of Irpin, two areas near Kyiv that were occupied by Russian troops in the first days of the invasion between February and March 2022. The Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office has documented the massacres in both areas as war crimes.

Spain supports the EU's commitment to the International Criminal Court to ensure that war crimes committed throughout the country are prosecuted. As President Sánchez has told Zelenski, Spain has been one of 43 states that have approached the Office of the Prosecutor General to request an investigation, and will provide an additional €620,000 to finance it. Our country's commitment to accountability and the fight against impunity has also been demonstrated by the dispatch of a team of experts from the Ministry of Home Affairs, who have collaborated with the Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office in its investigative work.

President Sanchez holds a bilateral meeting with President Zelenski

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, during his meeting with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky | Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

Pedro Sánchez has held a meeting with Volodymyr Zelenski, in which the two leaders have made a broad assessment of the consequences of the Russian aggression after a full year of a war that the president of the government has described as unjustified and illegal. He also reiterated the support of Spain and the EU as a whole vis-à-vis such a flagrant violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, basic principles of international law. The president stated that "Spain will not recognise Putin's false annexations of Ukrainian territories", in a joint appearance with the President of Ukraine following their bilateral meeting in which President Zelenski thanked Spain for the support it has given his country in various areas since the beginning of the invasion.

President Sánchez discussed with the Ukrainian leader all the military aid that Spain has deployed, not only ammunition, vehicles and weapons, but also the imminent shipment of Leopard 2ª4 tanks. "We understand that Ukraine needs more to put an end to this aggression and regain its territories," said President Sánchez. "That is why we will go a step further in our military contribution, and that is why my government announced this Wednesday the decision to send six Leopard tanks," he explained, stating that Spain would be able to send four more if necessary. Both Zelenski and President Sánchez also emphasised the specific training for Ukrainian soldiers in the use of these tanks that is currently being given in Spain.

Pedro Sánchez also addressed coordination with the rest of the EU countries, recalling that unity is the best weapon against Putin and underlining that Spain advocates joint purchases to increase defence supplies for Ukraine. "We are also defending inalienable international principles such as sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom", he stated.

Spain, an ally of Ukraine in a number of areas

Spain supports the 10 points of the Ukrainian leader's Peace Plan, as the president reiterated today during his meeting with Zelenski. Moreover, our country is now the fourth largest contributor to the European Peace Fund, which has so far disbursed €3.6 billion to Ukraine, of which €315 million have been contributed by our country.

Spain is committed to Ukraine's financial and economic recovery and, in this regard, has supported the €18 billion financial aid package announced by the EU, contributing an additional €250 million bilaterally. President Sánchez also shared with Zelenski his support for his country's efforts to become a member of the EU, and to this end he welcomed the reforms required to achieve the country's accession. He also informed the Ukrainian president that his country will continue to be a central issue on the agenda of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, which will be held during the second half of the year.

With regard to the reception of refugees, Spain is currently lending support to more than 165,000 Ukrainians by facilitating their integration and access to the health and education system, among other means of assistance.

Our country is also treating wounded soldiers in Ukraine, and the president has today made official to President Zelenski the offer of Spain's help in the specialised training of Ukrainian traumatologists, rehabilitators and physiotherapists in the use and manipulation of modern prostheses. This aid would be carried out in Zaragoza, with the collaboration of the Hospital General de la Defensa.

A commemorative plaque on the Paseo de los Valientes (Walk of the Brave)

After the bilateral meeting, the two leaders took a stroll together on the so-called 'Walk of the Brave'. Since last August, Kyiv's Constitution Square has hosted the Walk, where plaques commemorating foreign leaders who have visited the country during Putin's war in Ukraine have been unveiled.

Pedro Sánchez's first visit to Kyiv dates back to 21 April 2022, just two months after the outbreak of the war. Today, accompanied by the Ukrainian President, the President of the Government of Spain was able to contemplate the plaque commemorating that first visit.

Pedro Sánchez delivers a speech to the Supreme Rada

Ukrainian parliamentarians applaud the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, after the speech he gave before the Plenary Session of the Rada Suprema | Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

President Sánchez addressed the plenary of the Rada Suprema on Thursday afternoon, where he paid tribute to the dignity of the Ukrainian people, a people who he pointed out "are fighting for what is right, and know what they are fighting for", unlike the enemy. "Ukraine is fighting for its survival while their enemy is fighting for power. The struggle of the latter is not worthy. Ukraine's struggle is a hymn to freedom".

Pedro Sánchez has conveyed the support Spain has given so far in various areas, reiterating his government's commitment to continue supporting them in the military sphere in coordination with the allies. He also shared in the plenary session that Ukraine will soon receive the first tanks from Spain and referred to the top-of-the-range weapons and financial aid, "the largest humanitarian package we have ever delivered to a single country".

Pedro Sánchez also addressed the effects the war is having on a global level, recalling the importance of continuing to fight for the truth to prevail over Putin's narrative. "Many countries today feel the global consequences of war and are at times inclined to believe Putin's anti-Western propaganda," he said. "We cannot allow this, and we are doing everything we can to counter this Russian narrative in all our international contacts".

Regarding food security, the president recalled the programme that Spain launched a few weeks ago to combat this consequence of Putin's war. This programme, he reiterated, will benefit countries in Africa and the Middle East, who have been particularly hard hit by the global food crisis. To this effect, Pedro Sánchez praised Ukraine's efforts to facilitate the arrival of cereals to those most in need.

The president emphasised that despite the distance separating Madrid from Kyiv, 3,600 kilometres, our country has welcomed Ukrainian refugees. Pedro Sánchez told the Ukrainian Parliament that all of them now have adequate access to health, education and other services. "Our commitment today is a moral duty," said the president, pointing out that it is also a response to the power of memory. "Eighty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Spaniards fleeing the war found refuge in other countries. Here, too, in Ukraine," he said. "Today, by sheltering its people, we are paying homage to that lesson in humanity".

Pedro Sánchez conveyed to the Ukrainian chamber a message of calm regarding the women who have been forced to leave their country, Ukraine, sharing with the plenary the meeting that the president held this Wednesday with a group of refugee women. "I saw strength and determination in their faces," he said. "I saw hope, and confidence in their smiles. By her example today, I pay tribute to all Ukrainian women who are worthy heirs to the legacy of Lesya Ukrainka". The president expressed his hope that the Ukrainian women would soon be able to return home to their families once peace returns to Ukraine. "Until that time comes, I can assure you that we will take care of your loved ones," he said.

Likewise, and recalling the allusion to Guernica made by President Zelenksi during his speech in the Lower House of Parliament last April, Pedro Sánchez recalled that Pablo Picasso had made it clear that his painting, Guernika, "could only return to a free and democratic Spain. "It took time and suffering," the president told the Verkhovna Rada. Last, Pedro Sánchez recalled that Spain managed to achieve freedom, democracy and membership of Europe. "You are now in your darkest hour. Remember that the darkest hour is always before the dawn," he told his Ukrainian counterpart, before reiterating that "you are not alone in this darkness, we are with you".

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