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Spanish PM Sanchez calls for increased EU defense spending in response to threats from Russia

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 10, 2024 7:27 PM 2 min read
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) speaks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky at in Granada, Spain on Oct. 5, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an address to parliament on April 10 that the EU needs to increase its defense spending in the face of the threat from Russia, and called on Spain to improve its military to better reflect its position as the EU's fourth biggest army.

While Spain has increased its military spending since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it stood at 1.26% of its GDP as of the end of 2023, far below the 2% benchmark for NATO members.

Sanchez said that the EU's defense and collective security has been "neglected for far too long," creating a deficit in defense spending of 56 billion euros ($60 billion).

The problem has been exacerbated by the threat from Russia, which has become increasingly apparent in the aftermath of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"We have fewer capabilities, we suffer digital vulnerabilities that are exacerbated as a result of the rise of artificial intelligence, (and) serious shortcomings in the defense industry, despite the fact that the European economy is seven times larger than the Russian economy," Sanchez said.

"We need to strengthen our deterrence capacity not to be feared, not to drag the world into any arms race but to be respected, to be able to protect this great project of peace, democracy, and freedom that is Europe," he added.

Spain's economy is the fourth biggest in the EU, Sanchez said, and its defense spending should more accurately match that standing.

Since the beginning of the full-scale war, Spain has trained around 3,500 soldiers, making it the third-largest contributing European country in terms of the training of Ukrainian personnel.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), which tracks international aid for Ukraine, Spain has committed a little more than $1 billion in aid as of February 2024.

Ukraine, Spain start talks on security guarantees
Ukraine and Spain began negotiations on a bilateral agreement on security guarantees under the Group of Seven (G7) Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine, the Presidential Office reported on March 4.
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