Updated: 26/10/16 : 12:46:07
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

world

World :: Spain urged to boycott refuelling of Russian warships

Spain is coming under pressure from Nato allies not to allow the refuelling of Russian warships bound for Syria.

Spain is now reviewing its permit for refuelling at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in north Africa.

The UK said it would be "extremely concerned" if the refuelling went ahead.

Nato expressed concern that the ships could be used to help bomb civilians in Aleppo, but said the final decision on resupply rested with Spain.

The battle group has been sailing for the past week from Russia via the English Channel to the Mediterranean. It was expected to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar on Wednesday.

The warships were then due to take on fuel and supplies at Ceuta on the Moroccan coast.

"The latest stopovers which have been requested are now being revised, based on the information which we are receiving from our allies and from the Russian authorities themselves," a statement from Spain's foreign ministry said.

The ministry added that Russian ships have been a frequent user of Ceuta since 2011 and that each request was considered on a "case by case basis".

Nato's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that warships could be used to target civilians in Syria.

"We are concerned and I have expressed that very clearly about the potential use of this battle group to increase Russia's ability and to be a platform for air strikes against Syria," he told journalists on Tuesday.

"The concern is that the Kuznetsov carrier group can be used as a platform for increased airstrikes against civilians in Aleppo."

But he added that it was "for each nation to decide whether these ships can get supplies and fuelling and be fuelled in different harbours along the route towards the eastern Mediterranean."

The UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said: "We'd be extremely concerned that any Nato member should consider assisting a Russian carrier group that might end up bombing Syrian civilians."

"On the contrary, Nato should be standing together."