Approaches of Southern European countries in supporting Ukraine after the full-scale Russian invasion

Grygoriy Riy,
Ph.D. (History), Associate Professor,
Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, Kyiv, Ukraine


Abstract. The article is devoted to reviewing the government’s response of Southern European countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece) to the full-scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine on 24 February 2022, which is based on the analysis of the researches, analytical papers, and official reports of the state authorities and mass media. Coverage of this topic is explained by the necessity of the full exploration of the Sothern European governments’ key approaches in supporting Ukraine in the struggle with the Russian army, as well as, discovering some new perspectives, using the comparative and transnational methodology.
It is defined the term “Southern Europe”, and also outlined the main historiographical interpretations of the countries of the region. Preference is given to a pragmatic approach for characterising the countries of Southern Europe. The central studies of Ukrainian-Italian, Ukrainian-Spanish, Ukrainian-Portuguese and Ukrainian-Greek relations, official reports and mass media used in the study are analysed.
It also analyses and compares the changing Southern European governments’ attitudes towards their supporting Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity, the illegal annexation of Crimea, and the beginning of war in Donbas in 2014, with the united international response after the full-scale Russian invasion on 24 February 2022. In general, the governments of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece changed completely their policy of supporting or non-supporting Ukraine in the war. If after 2014 they tried to be pragmatic in the question of cutting ties with the Russian Federation in their foreign policy activity, then after the full-scale invasion in 2022 they strongly condemned Putin’s regime and agreed to provide assistance to Ukraine to the extent of their military and financial capabilities.
The study found that the assistance of Southern European countries has been provided on the Atlantic (through NATO) and European (through EU) levels, as well as national. Defence ministers of the governments of Southern Europe are among the members of the “Ramstein” meetings, where the provision of military aid to Ukraine is coordinated. The countries of the region have so far given priority to humanitarian, financial aid and lethal weapons assistance (but not heavy ones), and have also accepted a large number of Ukrainian refugees. The assistance provided at each of the levels is illustrated by specific examples.
Otherwise, Russian influence on domestic policy, national populistic parties and single members of the government or parliament is still strong. For instance, the Italian governmental crisis that happened in the mid-summer was the result of the unpopular and strong position of the prime minister Mario Draghi in his unwavering support of Ukraine.
The countries of the region also see the Russian-Ukrainian war as an opportunity for them to strengthen their influence in the Mediterranean.

Key words: Southern Europe, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Russian-Ukrainian war, supporting Ukraine.

Submitted 17.08.2022



1. Baranovsʹka, I. (2016). Torhovelʹno-ekonomichni vidnosyny mizh Ukrayinoyu ta Hretsiyeyu. Dialoh kulʹtur Ukrayina – Hretsiya: kulʹturna polityka ХХІ st. v yevropeysʹkiy retrospektyvi, 73-74 [in Ukrainian].
2. Zahorovsʹka, O., & Bondarchuk, V. (2017). Zovnishnʹoekonomichni vidnosyny Ukrayiny z Italiyeyu.  [in Ukrainian].
3. Zhovkva I. (2022). Portuhaliya – nash shchyryy partner na yevrointehratsiynomu shlyakhu Ukrayiny. Prezydent Ukrayiny.  [in Ukrainian].
4. Ilyuk, T.V. (2017). Hretsiya. In A.I. Kudryachenko, (Ed.), Krayiny svitu i Ukrayina. Vol.1. (s. 430–454). Kyiv: Feniks.  [in Ukrainian].
5. Kudryachenko, A.I., & Martynov, A.YU. (2019). Portuhaliya: vid dyktatury Salazara do uspishnoyi krayiny Yevropeysʹkoho Soyuzu. «Ukrayina: kontekst svitovykh podiy». Retrieved from: [in Ukrainian].
6. Lysak, V. (2015). Vidnosyny z hretsʹkoyu respublikoyu v konteksti seredzemnomorsʹkoho napryamku zovnishnʹoyi polityky Ukrayiny. Visnyk Dnipropetrovsʹkoho universytetu, 4, 53–62.  [in Ukrainian].
7. Martynov, A. (2017). Portuhaliya. In A.I. Kudryachenko, (Ed.), Krayiny svitu i Ukrayina. Vol.1. (s. 541–554). Kyiv: Feniks. Retrieved from: [in Ukrainian].
8. Minakov, M. (2017). Nadto mʺyaka vlada: rezulʹtaty ukrayinsʹkoyi kulʹturnoyi dyplomatiyi v Italiyi, 2014–2015 rr. Publichna ta kulʹturna dyplomatiya Ukrayiny (2014–2016), 16, 75–82. Retrieved from: [in Ukrainian].
9. Politychni vidnosyny mizh Ukrayinoyu ta Portuhaliyeyu (2021). Posolʹstvo Ukrayiny v Portuhalʹsʹkiy Respublitsi.  [in Ukrainian].
10. Polyakova, YE. (2019). Ukrayino-ispansʹki vidnosyny 1990–2019 rokakh.  [in Ukrainian].
11. Syekunova, YU., & Ishchuk I. (2019). Ukrayina ta Italiya – subʺyekty mizhnarodnoho prava: kharakterni osoblyvosti mizhnarodnykh vidnosyn. Vcheni zapysky TNU imeni V.I. Vernadsʹkoho. Seriya: Istorychni nauky, 30(69), 4, 144–148 [in Ukrainian].
12. Sukhobokova, O. (2019). Humanitarna dopomoha Italiyi Ukrayini v 2014-2018 rr. Yevropeysʹki istorychni studiyi, 12, 107–124 [in Ukrainian].
13. Talapko, N., & Tyshchuk, A. (2011). Ukrayinsʹko-ispansʹki vidnosyny v protsesi yevropeysʹkoyi intehratsiyi. Naukovyy visnyk Uzhhorodsʹkoho universytetu, seriya «Istoriya», 26, 92–98. Retrieved from: [in Ukrainian].
14. 55% of Spanish public fear Russia’s war on Ukraine may lead to World War III: Survey (2022). AA. [Іn English].
15. Alcaro, R., & Mikhelidze, N. (2022). Not yet time for diplomacy. Lessons from Italy’s ill-conceived peace plan for Ukraine. CIDOB. [Іn English].
16. Baumeister, M., & Sala, R. (2015). A long road south. Southern Europe as a discursive construction and historical region after 1945. Southern Europe? Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece from the 1950s until the present day (pp. 19–50). [Іn English].
17. Baumeister, M., & Ziemann, B. (2021). Introduction: Peace Movements in Southern Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. Journal of Contemporary History, 56(3), 563–578. [Іn English].
18. Borsari, F. (2022). Italy’s Unwavering Support for Ukraine. CEPA. [Іn English].
19. Christiani, D. (2020). Italy-Ukraine Relations: Signs of Improvement, but No Breakthrough. The Jamestown Foundation.  [Іn English].
20. Dunaev, A. (2018). Why Spain doesn’t fear the «Russian Threat». Carnegie endowment for international peace. [Іn English].
22. Escribano, G. (2022). Ten ways Spain can contribute to increase European energy autonomy from Russia. Elcano Royal Institute. [Іn English].
23. Feás, E. (2022). The effects of the invasion of Ukraine on the Spanish economy. Elcano Royal Institute.  [Іn English].
24. Greece formally rejects US proposal to supply Ukraine with additional Russian-made weapon systems (2022). AA.  [Іn English].
25. Greece fully supports Ukrainian gov’t: Greek premier. (2022). АА.  [Іn English].
26. In Greece, Russia Sympathies Die Hard Despite Ukraine War (2022). VOA. [Іn English].
27. Italy mulls sending howitzers to Ukraine, says Dutch PM. (2022). Politico.  [Іn English].
28. Italy PM condemns Russia’s ‘unjustifiable’ attack on Ukraine. (2022). Wanted in Rome.  [Іn English].
29. Italy Pulls Ahead in Europe’s Rush to Cut Russia-Gas Ties. (2022). Bloomberg.  [Іn English].
30. Joining Sanctions on Russia, Italy Risks More Than Most. (2022). The New York Times.  [Іn English].
31. Krastev, I., & Leonard, M. (2022). Peace Versus Justice: The coming European split over the war in Ukraine. ECFR Policy brief.  [Іn English].
32. Lasheras, F. (2014). Four Spanish factions on Russia and Ukraine. European council on foreign relations. [Іn English].
33. Marghélis, A. (2022). War in Ukraine: What are the stakes for Greece? FMES,  [Іn English].
34. Minister of National Defence notes variety of aid sent to Ukraine. (2022). [Іn English].
35. Portugal grants 250 million euros in financial assistance to Ukraine. (2022). [Іn English].
36. Portugal is available to train Ukrainian military. (2022). [Іn English].
37. Portugal vehemently condemns Russian action on Ukrainian soil. (2022).  [Іn English].
38. Portugal will contribute with 8 to 10 million euros to strengthen Ukraine’s defence. (2022). [Іn English].
39. Portugal’s Costa in Kyiv for talks on aid, EU accession (2022). Politico. [Іn English].
40. Russia-Ukraine war: Italy PM to sign new Algerian gas deal, cutting Moscow imports. (2022). Middle East Eye. [Іn English].
41. Russia-Ukraine War: Spain To Expel 25 Russian Diplomats After Bucha Genocide. (2022). [Іn English].
42. Sánchez and Zelenskiy announce a new military aid package and the dispatch of experts for the International Criminal Court (2022). La Mocloa.  [Іn English].
43. Spain answers to Ukraine: military equipment, including artillery, to be sent “immediately” (2022). The Diplomat in Spain. [Іn English].
44. Spain sends material to protect civilians and 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Ukraine (2022). The Diplomat in Spain. [Іn English].
45. Spain will not send ‘Leopard’ tanks to Ukraine due to “deplorable” state of repair. (2022). The Diplomat in Spain. [Іn English].
46. Stolton, S. (2022). Portugal’s Costa in Kyiv for talks on aid, EU accession. Politico.  [Іn English].
47. The Greek minority in Ukraine. (2022). Friedrich Naumann Foundation for freedom. [Іn English].
48. The South in Postwar Europe: Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal (2013). H-Soz-Kult.  [Іn English].
49. Valinakis, Y. (2022). Why Greece should be concerned about a war in Ukraine Ekathimerini. [Іn English].
50. Zarembo, K. (2016). Foreign policy audit: Ukraine – Italy. [Іn English]