Ukrainian consul and Catalan foreign minister condemn Russian attack on Ukraine

Artem Vorobyov and Victòria Alsina meet in Barcelona to discuss military operation

Catalan foreign minister Victòria Alsina meets with Ukrainian consul Vorobyov Artem (by Gerard Escaich Folch)
Catalan foreign minister Victòria Alsina meets with Ukrainian consul Vorobyov Artem (by Gerard Escaich Folch) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 24, 2022 04:35 PM

The Ukrainian consul in Barcelona, Artem Vorobyov, met with Catalonia’s foreign minister Victòria Alsina, on Thursday morning at the ministry HQ’s in the Catalan capital. The meeting between the political leaders lasted over an hour, and both "condemned the attack on Ukraine" from the Russian Federation that started in the early hours of the same day. 

Ukrainian nationals residing in Catalonia, as well as some Russians, protested in front of the Russian consulate in Barcelona hours earlier, while later on another demonstration took place in the city center

"The government of Catalonia condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine," Alsina said. She urged dialogue to be utilized in order to find a solution, before adding that Catalonia "supports the sanctions and decisions of the EU" and "hopes that the response is significant."

Alsina also announced that Catalonia will open hostels to accommodate Ukrainians who were visiting the country and are now unable to return home.

Authorities estimate that there are about 500-600 people who will need this accommodation and subsistence, as Alsina explained. The Minister also explained that the sending of medical supplies to Ukraine will be coordinated and that, depending on how the events unfold, the government will welcome, if necessary, Ukrainians to Catalonia.

As for the consul, he expressed concern for the thousands of Ukrainians living in Catalonia, all of them "very worried" about their families and the people they love. Vorobyov spoke of a "complicated" situation that "changes every minute", but noted that his country's army is "ready."

"We are not invaders, we are defending our homeland," he said. He also lashed out at Russia, lamenting that it was an "aggressor" country that wanted to impose its will on a sovereign nation through armed forces.

Catalan president offers solidarity

Catalan president Pere Aragonès offered all Catalan infrastructure necessary to welcome people seeking asylum and explained that the government has already activated the mechanisms to facilitate the arrival of Ukrainian citizens fleeing the conflict.

In a public address to assess the situation, he warned that Russia's aggression in Ukraine will have direct economic effects on Europe and Catalonia. He referred to the cost of energy and raw materials and the consequences it may have for Catalan companies working in the area.

Aragonés also explained that he had contacted the Socialist head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, to offer his collaboration. Sánchez, in turn, has criticized Putin for his government's "unacceptable actions," which he described as an attack on European values. 

Politicians reject invasion

The Catalan parliament, with the support of all parties except far-right Vox and far-left pro-independence CUP, criticized Russia for "unleashing military action" on Ukraine and called for a return to diplomacy. 

"This aggression is a flagrant violation of international law, has serious consequences on a regional and global scale, and those behind it must take responsibility for their actions," the approved text reads.

The declaration also supports the EU's "rapid and unified reaction emphasizing diplomacy and negotiation, peace and the preeminence of democratic principles and values."

Indeed, Catalan politicians from most parties, both in Catalonia and abroad, decried Putin's actions. Conservative People's Party MEP Dolors Montserrat, for example, "energetically condemned the attack," while others, like left-wing En Comú Podem MEP Ernest Urtasun expressed "solidarity" with Ukraine in the face of Russia's "imperialist aggression." 

CUP, meanwhile, retweeted a message calling for an "end to imperialist wars," NATO, and capitalism.