World Bulletin / News Desk
A fall out between Spain and its NATO allies was avoided Wednesday when Russia withdrew a refueling request for a naval flotilla headed for the eastern Mediterranean.
The Russian warships, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, are en route to support the military campaign in Syria, where Russia and Bashar al-Assad’s regime have been accused of war crimes by the U.S. over the bombing of Aleppo.
The Northern Fleet ships had been expected to take on fuel and supplies at Ceuta, a Spanish port on the north coast of Africa.
However, the Spanish Office of Diplomatic Information released a statement Wednesday saying the Russian embassy in Madrid had withdrawn the request for its fleet to dock in Ceuta. This came after the Foreign Ministry had asked for more details about the fleet’s mission and whether it would support the bombing of Aleppo, local media reported.
The ministry also said permission had been granted last month for three Russian ships to dock in Ceuta between Oct. 28 and Nov. 2. El Pais newspaper reported that 60 Russian warships had used Ceuta since 2011.
Spain’s reluctance to repeat the offer came after harsh criticism from NATO and EU leaders.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned the original decision. “I’ve sent out a very clear message: we are worried about the potential use that these Russian ships could have in increasing the catastrophe in Syria,” he said.
Speaking at the same news conference on Wednesday, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said the U.K. would be “extremely concerned if a NATO member should consider assisting a Russian carrier group that might end up bombing Syria… members of NATO should stay united.”
Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the EU parliament and a former Belgian prime minister, described the decision to allow the fleet to refuel and offer technical assistance as “scandalous” in a tweet on Tuesday night.
He pointed out that the Spanish government last week signed a European Council statement accusing Russia of war crimes in Aleppo. “Yet today it provides assistance to a fleet which has one purpose; the annihilation of Aleppo and the harassment of EU & NATO forces,” he posted.Last Mod: 27 Ekim 2016, 08:51