The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, announced yesterday, during her visit to the Spanish contingent deployed in southern Latvia as part of the NATO mission, that the objective of the allied countries is to send the Leopard 2A battle tanks to Ukraine in spring and, in the meantime, to ensure their maintenance and the training of Ukrainians.
Robles traveled to Latvia accompanied by the Chief of Defence Staff (JEMAD), Admiral General Teodoro López Calderón. Upon their arrival at Rigak airport, they were received by the Spanish ambassador to Latvia, Manuel Alhama, before moving to the Adazi maneuver field, located 180 kilometers from the Russian border, where they were welcomed by the head of the Latvian base and brigade, Colonel Sendris Gaugers, and the head of the Spanish contingent, Army Lieutenant Colonel Javier Armada.
In his speech, Robles described as “essential” the work of the Spanish contingent assigned to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) operation and admitted that “these six months that you are going to spend here are going to be hard and complicated, because just a few kilometers away there is a war, a human drama to which no one can remain insensitive”. For his part, the JEMAD highlighted the importance of the “deterrence” work carried out by the Spanish troops and warned that “it is important that what is happening in Ukraine does not spread to other parts of Europe, and that is achieved with what you do here every day”.
The current eFP XII contingent took command of the Spanish mission in Latvia on January 13, relieving the troops deployed during the last six months. Its generating base unit is the Guadarrama XII Brigade, located at the El Goloso Base (Madrid), and El Empecinado (Valladolid), integrated in the Castillejos Division of the Land Force. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Spain decided to reinforce the contingent deployed in Latvia, which currently has more than 600 troops.
On the other hand, Robles and the JEMAD toured a static exhibition of the means provided by Spain, among which the Leopard 2E battle tanks and the Pizarro infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) stand out, and the minister was especially interested in the characteristics of the Leopard 2E.
She also assured that, as part of a “clear and unequivocal commitment to peace”, Spain, “in coordination with NATO partners and allies”, will send to Ukraine Leopard 2A tanks that are in proper working order, for which, she stressed, it will have the support of the industry. “It should be borne in mind that it is not only about sending tanks, but there is a very important work, which is the work of training the crews of the various Leopards and also maintenance instruction,” the Minister of Defense stated.
Margarita Robles also informed that the shipment prepared by the allies could take place next spring and that, in the meantime, the donor countries will be in charge of the maintenance of the vehicles and the training of the Ukrainians in their operation.