Spain to take in Ukrainian refugees and send troops to Latvia

The Spanish government confirmed Tuesday it will allow in Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, allowing them to access employment in Spain, as well as send another 150 troops to Latvia as part of a Nato buildup in the region.

Spain to take in Ukrainian refugees and send troops to Latvia
An elderly woman hugs a girl as refugees from Ukraine wait for a transport at the Moldova-Ukrainian border's checkpoint near the town of Palanca on March 1, 2022. (Photo by Nikolay DOYCHINOV / AFP)

Government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez said Ukrainian refugees would be “full citizens” from the moment they arrived in Spain, notably “in terms of access to employment”.

The European Union is mulling giving Ukrainians special status under an as yet unused 2001 Temporary Protection Directive that would allow them to live and work in the bloc for up to three years.

The directive was originally drawn up for refugees from the conflicts gripping the former Yugoslavia, with provisions for handling a massive inflow of people and measures to distribute them across the EU’s member states.


For the tool to be used, though, a qualified majority of EU states — 15 of the 27, representing at least 65 percent of the bloc’s population — need to back it.

Rodríguez also said the right to “live and work” in Spain for those Ukrainians already here was “guaranteed”.

There are around 112,000 Ukrainians currently living in Spain, according to the INE national statistics office.

Separately, the defence ministry said Spain will send 150 additional troops to Latvia, who will join the 350 Spanish troops already there.

READ ALSO: How is Spain helping Ukraine (and is it enough?)

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Spain launches project to import Ukraine grain by train

Spain has launched a pilot project to import grain from Ukraine by train to explore the possibility of using rail transport while maritime routes are blocked or restricted by war.

Spain launches project to import Ukraine grain by train

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has severely disrupted Ukrainian grain exports, hampering harvests and trapping up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain in Kyiv’s Black Sea ports.

The war has sent global food prices soaring and sparked fears of famine.

As part of the Spanish project, a Renfe freight train “consisting of 25 containers, each measuring 40 foot (12 metres)” left Madrid late Tuesday for the Polish town of Chelm near the Ukrainian border, the transport ministry said.

It will travel 2,400 kilometres (1,500 miles) to Chelm where it will collect 600 tonnes of grain and return to Barcelona in early September.

“This is a pilot project… to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of transporting grain via the railway network crossing Europe from Lodz in Poland to Barcelona,” the ministry said in a statement.

The containers have been fitted with special liners to allow them to carry grain, the ministry said.

On July 22nd, Russia and Ukraine signed a UN-backed deal brokered by Turkey to lift Moscow’s naval blockade and release millions of tonnes of blocked grain, thereby helping avert a global food crisis.

A total of 12 ships have so far left three different Ukrainian Black Sea ports since then.

With the reopening, the Spanish project will also help “to analyse the capacity of land transport to support maritime routes,” the ministry said.