Pedro Sánchez travels to Kyiv on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, travelled to Ukraine this Thursday with a few hours to go until one year has elapsed since the start of the war. This visit has taken place at the invitation of the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski.

During the morning, Pedro Sánchez visited the city of Bucha and the Irpin neighbourhood, two areas near Kyiv that, at the beginning of the invasion between February and March 2022, were occupied by Russian troops. The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office has documented the massacres committed in both areas as a war crime.

Spain supports the European Union’s commitment to the International Criminal Court so that war crimes committed in the country as a whole are prosecuted. As President Sánchez has transferred to Zelenski, Spain has been one of the 43 States that have addressed the Office of the Attorney General to request an investigation, and will provide an additional 620,000 euro to finance it. A sign of our country’s commitment to accountability and the fight against impunity has also been the dispatch of a team of experts from the Ministry of the Interior who have collaborated with the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office in their investigative work.

Pedro Sánchez has held a meeting with Volodímir Zelenski, in which both leaders have made a broad assessment of the consequences of Russian aggression after the first year of a war that the President of the Government has described as unjustified and illegal. He has also reiterated the support of Spain and the EU as a whole in the face of a flagrant violation of basic principles of international law, such as sovereignty or territorial integrity. “Spain will not recognise Putin’s false annexations of Ukrainian territories.” This was expressed by the President of the Government, together with the President of Ukraine, during a joint appearance after their bilateral meeting, in which President Zelenski thanked the support in various areas that Spain has given his country since the beginning of the invasion.

President Sánchez has discussed with the Ukrainian leader all the military aid that Spain has deployed, both in relation to ammunition, vehicles and weapons, and in relation to the next shipment of Leopard 2ª4 tanks. “We understand that Ukraine needs more to put an end to this aggression and recover its territories,” said President Sánchez. “That is why we will go one step further in our military contributions, and that is why my government announced this Wednesday the decision to send 6 Leopard tanks,” he explained, stating that Spain will be able to send another 4 more if necessary. In addition, both Zelenski and President Sánchez have highlighted that the specific training of Ukrainian soldiers for the use of these tanks is currently being carried out in Spain.

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

Spain supports the 10 points of the Ukrainian leader’s Peace Plan, as it has reiterated today during its meeting with Zelenski. In addition, our country is today the 4th contributor to the European Peace Fund, which has so far disbursed 3.6 billion euro for Ukraine, of which 315 million have been contributed by our country.

Spain is committed to the financial and economic recovery of Ukraine and, in this sense, has supported the package of 18 billion euro of financial aid announced by the EU, also contributing, bilaterally, with an additional 250 million euro. President Sánchez has also shared his support with Zelenski in the efforts that his country is making to become a member of the European Union and in this sense he has welcomed the necessary reforms to achieve the country’s accession. Likewise, he has informed him that Ukraine 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.

Regarding the reception of refugees, Spain today provides support to more than 165,000 Ukrainians, facilitating their integration, access to the health and education system, among others.

In addition, our country is treating wounded soldiers in Ukraine and the President of the Government today made official to President Zelenski the offer of Spain’s help in specialised training for Ukrainian traumatologists, rehabilitators and physiotherapists in the use and manipulation of modern prostheses. This help would be carried out in Zaragoza, with the collaboration of the General Defence Hospital.

After the bilateral meeting, both leaders have walked together in the so-called ‘Paseo de los Valientes’. Since last August, Kyiv’s Constitution Square has hosted this walk, where commemorative plaques have been inaugurated for foreign leaders who, during Putin’s war on Ukraine, have visited the country.

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

President Sánchez addressed the plenary session of the Supreme Rada this Thursday afternoon. There he paid tribute to the dignity of the Ukrainian people, a people who, unlike the enemy, “fight for what is fair, and know what they are fighting for”, stressed the President of the Government. “Ukraine fights for its survival while your enemy fights for power. Their fight is not worthy. Yours is a hymn to freedom.”

Pedro Sánchez has transferred the support provided so far in various areas, reiterating that, in the military field, the commitment of the Government of Spain to continue supporting them in coordination with the allies. He also shared in plenary that Ukraine will soon receive the first tanks from Spain and alluded to the high-end weapons sent and financial aid, “the largest humanitarian package we have ever delivered to a single country”, he highlighted.

Likewise, Pedro Sánchez has addressed before the Supreme Rada the consequences that this war has today at a global level, and has recalled the importance of continuing to fight so that the truth prevails against Putin’s narratives. “Many countries today are suffering from the global consequences of the war and are sometimes inclined to believe some of Putin’s anti-Western propaganda,” he said. “We cannot allow it, and we are doing everything we can to counter that Russian narrative in all of our international contacts.”

In terms of food security, the president recalled the program that Spain launched a few weeks ago to fight against this consequence of Putin’s war. A program, he has reiterated, that will benefit countries in Africa and the Middle East that have been particularly affected by the world food crisis. In this regard, Pedro Sánchez has praised the efforts that Ukraine has made to facilitate the arrival of cereals to those most in need.

The President of the Government has highlighted that, despite the distance that separates Madrid from Kyiv, 3,600 kilometres, and has referred to the refugees who are today in Spain. Pedro Sánchez has transferred to the Ukrainian Parliament that all of them today have adequate access to health, education and other services. “Today our commitment is a moral duty”, the president affirmed, specifying that it also obeys the power of memory. “80 years ago, hundreds of thousands of Spaniards found refuge in other countries fleeing the war. Also here, in Ukraine,” he assured. “Today, giving shelter to its people, we pay tribute to that lesson in humanity.”

In this way, Pedro Sánchez has conveyed to the Ukrainian chamber a message of calm regarding women who have been forced to leave their country, Ukraine, and has shared with the plenary the meeting that the president held this Wednesday with a group of refugee women. “I saw strength and determination in their eyes,” he assured. “I saw hope, and confidence in their smiles. With their example today, I pay tribute to all worthy Ukrainian women who inherited the legacy of Lesya Ukrainka.” The President of the Government has wished that Ukrainian women can soon return to their homes, with their families, once peace returns to Ukraine. “Until that time comes, let me tell you that we will take care of your loved ones,” he said.

Likewise, and recalling the allusion to Guernica that President Zelenksi made during his speech in the Congress of Deputies last April, Pedro Sánchez recalled that Pablo Picasso left his painting, the Guernika, “could only return to a free and democratic Spain. “It took time and suffering”, the President of the Government stated before the Supreme Rada. Finally, Pedro Sánchez recalled, Spain managed to achieve freedom, democracy and adhesion to Europe. “You are now living your darkest hour Remember that the darkest hour is always before dawn”, he stressed, before reiterating: “You are not alone in this darkness, we are with you”.