Spain adding missiles, troops to Nato Latvia mission

Sunday, May 29, 2022

MADRID: Spain is sending a battery of surface-to-air missiles and around 100 troops to the Nato forward presence mission in Latvia, joining some 500 compatriots already present in the Baltic state, El Pais reported on Saturday.

The Spanish defence ministry "plans to deploy in Latvia a battery of surface-to-air NASAMS," or Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System, El Pais said as Nato beefs up its presence in the Baltic region in the face of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

"Our commitment to Nato is total," Defence Minister Margarita Robles told Spanish television in addressing the report. "We have troops at the moment in Latvia and also in Lithuania, we have our ships in the Mediterranean," Robles said as she stressed Madrid’s "maximum readiness" to step up its contribution to the Western military alliance’s show of strength designed to deter potential Russian incursions into its former Soviet-era zone of influence.

Robles was speaking as she attended an armed forces day military parade in the northern town of Huesca, ahead of the 40th anniversary of Spain’s incorporation into Nato on May 30, 1982.

After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Spain announced it was sending 150 additional troops to Latvia to beef up an initial 350-strong contingent deployed in 2017 as Nato responded to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea by deploying battle groups on the body’s eastern flank.

Spain also pledged after the Russian invasion to supply offensive military hardware to Ukraine after initially suggesting it would only supply military support as part of an EU package.

"When we defend Ukraine we are defending our values of democracy," said Robles, adding Madrid was in so doing standing up against the "cruelties" of the Russian regime.