Spain to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine

Spain will send a small number of Patriot missiles to Ukraine, El Pais newspaper reported on Friday, in response to pressure from EU and NATO allies to send more military aid to Kyiv.

With Russia having stepped up air attacks on Ukraine, EU governments have been urged to supply more protective systems to Kyiv, especially countries like Greece and Spain that have such arms in their arsenal.

Greece said on Thursday it would not be able to provide air defence systems to Ukraine.

El Pais, quoting unidentified government sources, said on Friday that Spain had ruled out delivering Patriot anti-aircraft launchers but it would supply the Ukrainian military with missiles for the system.

“The transfer of a small number of missiles has come after the defence ministry refused to hand over to Ukraine the battery it has had deployed since 2013 on the Turkish-Syrian border,” El Pais said.

“It will be a very limited number, as the Spanish war reserve is around 50 units and interceptors are very expensive.”

The defence ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the report but on Thursday a Spanish diplomatic told foreign reporters that Madrid needed to step up its commitment to Ukraine.

Spain has three batteries which it purchased second-hand from Germany in 2004 and 2014, El Pais said.

Earlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told NATO members that Ukraine needed a minimum of seven Patriot or other high-end air defence systems to counter Russian air strikes, urging them to step up their military assistance for Kyiv.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday night Greece could not offer air defence systems like Patriots or S-300 to Ukraine. Germany already promised to deliver one Patriot air defence system to Ukraine and called on NATO allies to deliver the other six.

In an interview in Skai TV, Mitsotakis said: “We were asked and we explained why we cannot do it,” Mitsotakis said, adding that these systems are “critical to our deterrent capability”.

Defence is a very sensitive issue for Athens given its rivalry with Turkey.

On Monday, European Union ministers said they were looking at how to provide more air defences to Ukraine but they stopped short of concrete pledges of the Patriot systems that Kyiv values most.

The United States will host on Friday a virtual meeting of Ukraine international aid donors, days after Congress emerged from a half-year of deadlock to approve a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine.


(Reporting by Emma Pinedo in Madrid and Lefteris Papadimas in Athens; Additional reporting by Belen Carreno; editing by Christina Fincher and Angus MacSwan)