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Article: Spain to give Ukraine $1.08B worth of military aid

Spain to give Ukraine $1.08B worth of military aid

Spain to give Ukraine $1.08B worth of military aid

PHOTO CAPTION: Illustrative photo — Austrian Leopard 2A4 tanks crews conduct the Offensive Operation lane during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge (SETC) at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, May 09, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathanael Mercado via U.S. Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)



By Belén Carreño

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain has pledged to provide military support to Ukraine worth 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) this year under an agreement signed on Monday between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid.

"It is more important than ever to redouble our support," Sanchez told a press conference.

The pact, which covers the next decade, calls for the supply of modern military equipment for ground, aerial, naval and other uses, "prioritising Ukraine's key capacity needs", and an emphasis on maritime means to protect Ukraine's food export routes, but gave no specifics.

El Pais newspaper reported earlier on Monday that Spain would commit to send Ukraine a dozen U.S.-made Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, 19 second-hand German-made Leopard 2A4 tanks, as well as other Spanish-made weapons such as anti-drone gear and ammunition.

Government officials declined to comment on the El Pais report.

Sanchez said Ukraine was asking its allies for Patriot missile launchers and that, while such shipments from Spain were not possible for now, they were working to see how many could be sent to Kyiv.

He added that Spain was already providing the missiles and was also weighing the delivery of alternative air defence systems.

Zelenskiy said Ukraine needed at least seven more Patriot launchers to defend itself and would put pressure on its allies to obtain them.

As his country reeled after another deadly strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Zelenskiy said Russian forces used around 3,200 guided aerial bombs this month.

"How do you fight that? There aren't enough air defence missiles to stop thousands of bombs a month... Those partners who are afraid to give us this or that weapon should understand that air defence is defence, not offence," he added.

Zelenskiy told Reuters this month Western allies were taking too long to make key decisions on military support for Ukraine.

He said he was pushing partners to get more directly involved in the war by helping to intercept Russian missiles over Ukraine and allowing Kyiv to use Western weapons against enemy military equipment amassing near the border.

Before the meeting with Sanchez, Zelenskiy was greeted on the tarmac at Barajas airport by King Felipe of Spain, a gesture underlining the importance of the visit for Madrid.

Zelenskiy will next visit the Portuguese capital Lisbon, where he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Luis Montenegro and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Tuesday and is expected to sign a similar 10-year agreement.

($1 = 0.9219 euros)

(Reporting by Belén Carreño, Inti Landauro, David Latona in Madrid and Anastasiia Malenko in Kyiv; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Charlie Devereux, Nick Macfie, William Maclean and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)



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