The conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, and with members of the NATO alliance strengthening their military presence in Eastern Europe, one of the latest to announce additional deployment of troops has been Spain. Spanish defence minister Margarita Robles announced on Monday that the Spanish army is to send more soldiers to NATO's borders with Russia. The move is aimed at showing that the alliance "does not accept threats" and condemns the invasion of Ukraine, according to Robles. "NATO's position is to strengthen the borders of the countries of the alliance and Spain will be there without a doubt," she said.
Robles said that peace is being "savagely attacked" by Russian president Vladimir Putin. The minister also praised Ukraine's resistance to the Russian invasion, with respect to which, she encouraged NATO and the EU to take action.
The minister did not detail the number of troops that will strengthen the NATO presence in the region, nor the exact area of deployment. Spain currently has about 800 troops deployed on alliance missions on borders with Russia. Spanish forces are present in Latvia with 350 land army soldiers, as well as having an air force deployment in Bulgaria to monitor its airspace and navy vessels which are part of permanent groupings in the Mediterranean, according to Europa Press.
Spaniards told they should leave Russia
The recommendation made by the Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, to the 3,000 Spanish citizens residing in Russia is that they should leave the country "quickly". This was stated by the minister in an interview with Spanish public radio RNE. The urgency arises from the fact that since midnight on Sunday night the airspace of the European Union has been "completely closed" to Russian planes. If people want to leave Russia, "they have to do it quickly," he warned. The minister said that those who wish to return should contact the Spanish embassy or consulates in Russia. "The same as we have done with Spanish citizens in Ukraine," he added.
Spain is thus following in the footsteps of other countries such as the United States, which has already asked its citizens to leave the country. So far, 106 Spaniards have been evacuated from the conflict in Ukraine.
Not all Spanish citizens who were in Ukraine at the time of the conflict have been able to leave the country yet. The minister stated that "there are about 100 Spaniards left". "We have activated the crisis cabinet in the foreign affairs ministry and I have been able to talk to some of them on the phone," Albares explained.