Spanish leader calls for negotiations with Putin to end Ukraine war

“It is important that we maintain contact with Putin as well,” Sánchez said in Davos. “I strongly advocate, for example, that the French government and the German government… take the lead here,” he told broadcaster CNN.

January 19,2023

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called for negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine, in comments on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.

“It is important that we maintain contact with Putin as well,” Sánchez said in Davos.

“I strongly advocate, for example, that the French government and the German government… take the lead here,” he told broadcaster CNN.

He said it would be conceivable to return to talks involving Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, in the Normandy format established before the outbreak of the war.

The other EU member states would support Paris and Berlin in such an initiative, Sánchez said.

Asked whether Putin might interpret a willingness to talk on the part of the West as “weakness,” he replied: “No, I don’t think so.”

Earlier, Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares expressed reservations about a possible delivery of Leopard battle tanks from his country to Ukraine.

“This possibility is not on the table at the moment,” he said at the World Economic Summit, Spanish news agency Europa Press reported.

His comments came as Western governments weigh their responses to Kiev’s calls for more powerful fighting vehicles.

Albares did not rule out a delivery at a later date and referred to the meeting at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday. Spain prefers to make such decisions “together and united,” he stressed.

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“Spain’s attitude in this war is to do what we think is best at every stage to help the Ukrainians defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and bring peace to the country as soon as possible,” the minister said.

The comments reflect differences of opinion within the Spanish government. Sánchez’s left-of-centre PSOE is partnered by the smaller, more left-wing Unidas Podemos, which is critical of arms deliveries to Ukraine.

In June, according to media reports, Spain was considering the delivery of Leopards of the older type 2 A4. Fifty-three of these tanks have been mothballed in a facility in Zaragoza since 2012.

After weeks of speculation about this delivery, Spain’s Defence Minister Margarita Robles said in August that the tanks were in “an absolutely desolate condition,” and that it was no longer possible to repair them. This caused astonishment in military circles.

Spain has a total of 108 Leopard 2 A4s and 229 Leopard 2Es, a version of the 2A6 adapted for Spanish requirements.

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