The war in Ukraine leaves Spain at the limit of the ammunition it can donate

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The war in Ukraine leaves Spain at the limit of the ammunition it can donate

After On April 28, the Ysabel A-06 carried the largest delivery of Spanish war material for Ukraine to a Polish port, the Ukrainian ambassador in Madrid , Serhii Pohoreltsev, did not show special enthusiasm. All the powder magazine transported by the Navy's largest logistics projection ship, 200 tons of ammunition in addition to light and heavy vehicles, was barely enough for two hours of fighting, he said. So he went to EL PERIÓDICO.

And it's not that he wanted to be ungrateful, it was just to explain the magnitude of his country's need for weapons in a war that was going to be lightning and it has become a conflict of wear. 

The effort involved in the Ukrainian war is underway. exhausting the European arsenals. Also the Russians. And, of course, the Spanish “starting from a great decapitalization after fifteen years without favorable budgets for Defense”, laments a senior officer of the Armed Forces consulted by this newspaper.

Spain arrived in Spain. He joined the club of military donors for Ukraine after years of chained budget blocking exercises since the bubble crisis. The arsenals were by themselves. poorly stocked before February 242022. “Now they are at the limit of touching safety stock,” explains the same source.

'Surplus' material

Defense sent In the first phases, machine gun bullets (700,000) and tank and artillery projectiles that were closest to their expiration date came to the fore. Later, very powerful 105 and 155-millimeter ammunition for self-propelled guns in full use, some with five years still to go. And these projectiles are now the most scarce in the Army's panoply.

The war in Ukraine leaves Spain at the limit of the ammunition it can donate

But the need urges again at the front. A couple of artillery groups dedicated to creating curtains of fire (the tactic of the last century that both contenders are using) expend in a single day the load of ammunition that fits in a convoy of trucks three kilometers long, according to an artillery general.

Since war devours ammunition and lack of it is a common ailment of some axes. For little European armies that were asleep in peace, the European Commission is ready. urging factories to speed up production.

The red line that donations approach is non-donable defensive material, “necessary for our security,” the Defense Minister, Margarita Robles said this Wednesday, to the explain why Spain will not deliver Ukraine brought its most modern cars, the Leopard 2E A6.

The 41 arms donors to Ukraine do the same. kyiv has contained the Russian invasion with donations without, so far, none of the donor countries have had to commit their safety stock. All the countries are donating material that the military calls 'surplus', that is, that which has been decommissioned, or stored as a reserve or for sale, or about to be scrapped because it has become obsolete. or by having a more advanced one that replaces it.

The war in Ukraine leaves Spain at the limit of the ammunition it can donate

March 29, 2022. A Spanish soldier Army ambulance hands over Ukrainian man in Poland.


“Being surplus does not necessarily mean that you have lost combat capacity,” warns another senior officer, this direct connoisseur of a Spanish contribution that Defense continues to cover with a veil of “discretion so that whoever is doing it does not find out.” massacring Ukraine”, as Robles has said.

This is the case of the six Leopard 2 A4 carriages from which the company will dispose of. Spain. And of the 20 TOA armored vehicles that set sail from Bilbao for the front on February 6. The armored tracked transport will be it was soon replaced in the Army by modern VAC (vehicles of accompaniment in combat). And the Hawk and Aspide missiles that Spain has delivered do not have the power and range of the Nasams batteries for which Defense is committed.

In the same way, the hundred Mastiff armored vehicles donated by the UK, powerful heavy fighting vehicles that can withstand mines, can carry a platoon of 10 soldiers and their equipment and have a gun on top… were retired in Iraq, where they last served.

Donor 18

“We are giving what we can, what corresponds to us by weight and capacity”, sums up one of the military sources consulted when commenting on the Spanish contribution.

In this year of Since the war, Spain has made 54 shipments of war material. Of those, 42 by air to a base in Poland from which Ukraine is supplied. There have been 1,370 C90 portable rocket launchers (of the old ones), 700,000 machine gun bullets, one Aspide surface-to-air battery, six anti-aircraft defense Hawk missile launchers (the system is 40 years old, and the number of missiles remains at secret), five naval defense systems ((class is kept secret), 20 TOA vehicles, 10 light vehicles, ten other trucks for engineers, four light ambulances, one heavy ambulance, 39 electricity generators, 2,000 Tons of diesel fuel, 5,000 Kevlar helmets, 1,784 anti-fragment vests, 1,300 gowns, 17,500 jackets, most of them winter…

This is the list of products whose amount has been released by Defense. The exact number of other lots is not known, those of submachine guns, 105mm ammunition, 155mm artillery ammunition, 105/14 self-propelled howitzers and missiles. Mistral.

These 54 shipments They make Spain donor number 18 on the list of 41 that provide weapons to Ukraine. But the ranking can be unfair. The United States is the main donor (it has already spent 40,000 million dollars, against 15,000 that the EU plans to spend) but not in proportion to its true capacity to deploy weapons.

“Its reserves of material are so enormous that it allows itself the luxury of having it scattered around the world,” explains one of the military sources who have spoken to this newspaper. If there is an action outside their borders, the Marines suffice to get on their plane with their rifles and backpacks; everything else will be, for sure, in a ship near its point of projection. An example of this was given by the freighter J.P. goofywhen running aground in the waters of Cádiz on November 6, 1997. The cargo evacuated to refloat it: more than 1,000 vehicles, 30 cars and all kinds of equipment to support the deployment of an important unit of marines.

If instead of 20 Himars batteries, of more than 200 that it has, the United States would have donated 60… “But it is about grading the aid, and being very careful not to cause escalations,” explains this source. Of all of Europe, the donors that have put the least on the Ukrainian board with respect to their potential have been Belgium and Greece, all those consulted agree.

Phase by phase

Spain has helped Ukraine in five areas. In addition to the military , the political-diplomatic (influencing Latin America in favor of condemning the invasion), the >humanitarian (168,000 Ukrainian refugees welcomed), intelligence (the SatCen satellite center in Torrejón is key) and financial and reconstruction< /strong>, which is already being used. exploring.

The war in Ukraine leaves Spain at the limit of the ammunition that can donate

Soldiers of the Spanish deployment ;ol in Latvia in spring 2022.


There is, of course, help also in NATO missions: air police in the Baltic, Bulgaria and Romania, the deterrent naval deployment along the Black Sea and the dispatch of armored units – modern Leopards and self-propelled guns- to Latvia, to that detachment that Núñez-Feijóo wanted to visit.

Spanish contributions have gradually increased. leaving They started out as purely defensive material, helmets, gloves, knee pads, goggles, anti-fragment vests, emergency hemostatic material, the kind a soldier uses to avoid shrapnel wounds or stabilize one who has not avoided them.

I sent them. ;os, in the same month of February, later became light weapons. They went in there thousands of amelis. like this why they call light machine guns in the ArmyThey had stored them since the 1980s (except for the Marine Corps) because they have a defect: they don't stand up well to sustained fire for days.

“In the arms donations, all The countries have been reacting to the escalation that Russia was making“, explains the first senior official. In other words: first, non-lethal material; then purely defensive weapons; then offensive weaponry; also the training of more than 800 Ukrainian servicemen… and in the future, maybe even more. hunts.

Another source explains the gradual reaction: “The war had its first phase with a wave of tanks… and the C90 antitank were sent. Then came the need for artillery. , and ammunition was sent, despite the fact that we lack the reserves to be very generous. When the bombardments of cities became indiscriminate, anti-aircraft missiles were sent. Now, in the phase With a new Russian impulse, it is time to send the Leopards”.