World

Zelensky visits Spain in pursuit of weapons for Ukraine to fight Russia with

The deal will help his country fight its more than two-year war with Russia amid a recent offensive by the Kremlin’s forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, is welcomed by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (AP Photo/Paul White)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, is welcomed by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (AP Photo/Paul White) (Paul White/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived in Madrid where he is expected to sign a bilateral security agreement with Spain.

The deal will help his country fight its more than two-year war with Russia amid a recent offensive by the Kremlin’s forces.

Spain’s King Felipe VI met Mr Zelensky at the capital’s Barajas airport. The Ukrainian leader is holding talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez about what local media reported is a planned 1.1 billion euro (£940 million) agreement for Spain to supply Ukraine with more weapons.

Mr Zelensky had been due to visit Spain earlier this month but he postponed all his foreign trips after the Kremlin’s forces launched a cross-border offensive in the north-eastern Kharkiv region and left Ukrainian troops reeling.

Mr Zelenskyy, left, talks with Mr Sanchez in Madrid (AP Photo/Paul White)
Mr Zelenskyy, left, talks with Mr Sanchez in Madrid (AP Photo/Paul White) (Paul White/AP)

That push has further strained Ukraine’s already depleted army, which in recent months has been fighting Russia’s intense drive deeper into the partially occupied eastern Donetsk region. Mr Zelensky said on Sunday that the Kremlin’s army is mustering at another point in Russia, farther north but close to the approximately 600-mile front line, presumably to try to crack Ukrainian resistance in the area.

A Western intelligence assessment suggested that Russia’s Kharkiv offensive has subsided.

“The northern Kharkiv front has likely stabilised with Russian territorial control fragmented and not joined up,” the UK’s Ministry of Defence said. “Russia’s gains in this axis will be limited in the coming week, as Russia’s initial momentum has been contained by Ukrainian resistance.”

That is in line with Mr Zelensky’s claim last Friday that Ukrainian forces have secured “combat control” of areas where Russian troops entered the Kharkiv region.

The onslaught unfolding as the weather improves has brought Ukraine’s biggest military test since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Slow deliveries of support by its Western partners, especially a lengthy delay in US military aid, have left Ukraine at the mercy of Russia’s bigger army and air force.

Spanish newspaper El Pais, citing unidentified sources familiar with the bilateral deal, said it would include another batch of US-made Patriot air defence systems that Ukraine has long pleaded for to help it fend off Russian missile attacks.

Other items include more Leopard tanks for Ukraine and 155mm artillery shells that are the most used by Ukraine on the battlefield, El Pais said. Spain will also continue training Ukrainian troops and treating its wounded soldiers.