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Russia–Spain relations


Russia–Spain relations

Russia–Spain relations
Map indicating locations of Russia and Spain



Russia–Spain relations (Russian: Российско-испанские отношения Spanish: Relaciones bilaterales entre Rusia y España) refers to the bilateral foreign relations between the Russian Federation and Kingdom of Spain. Russia has an embassy in Madrid and a consulate-general in Barcelona, and Spain has an embassy in Moscow. Spain and the Grand Duchy of Moscow first exchanged envoys in 1520s; regular embassies were established in 1722. Soviet-Spanish relations, once terminated after the Spanish Civil War, were gradually reestablished since 1963 and fully established in 1977. Trade between the two countries amounted to two billion Euros in 2008. In March 2009, the two countries signed an energy agreement providing national energy companies access to other party's domestic markets.


  • Muscovy and Imperial Russia 1
  • Soviet period 2
  • Russian Federation 3
  • See also 4
  • References and notes 5
  • External links 6
  • Sources 7

Muscovy and Imperial Russia

Official contacts between Spain and the Grand Duchy of Moscow go back to 1519, when King Charles I of Spain notified Grand Duke Vasili III of Russia of his ascension to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire as Charles V. In 1523, Yakov Polushkin delivered Vasili's response to the court at Valladolid, thus becoming the first Russian envoy to Spain.[1] In 1525 Russian envoys Ivan Zasekin-Yaroslavsky and Semen Borisov presented their credentials to Charles; they brought news of the Discovery of the Americas to Muscovy.[1]

The Spanish Inquisition and especially the aftermath of the Alhambra Decree expelling Jews from the Kingdom were of particular interest to 16th-century Russian clergy, then obsessed with suppressing the Judaizers heresy within the Russian Orthodox Church.[2] Muscovy, unlike contemporary European nations, studied the Inquisition not "as an example to avoid but a model to imitate".[3]

Another temporary contact was established by Pyotr Potemkin's embassy (1667–1668) during the reign of Alexis I of Russia.[1][3]

Regular embassies of the two countries were established by Peter I of Russia and Philip V of Spain in 1722; in 1723, Russia also opened a consulate in Cádiz. Prince Sergey Golitsyn served as the first Russian ambassador to Spain; duke Diego Francisco de Liria, who also inherited the Jacobite title of Duke of Berwick, served as ambassador of Spain in Russia. However, after the unexpected death of Peter II of Russia, Spain declared the ascension of Anna of Russia unlawful and severed diplomatic relations until 1759.[1] De Liria, who closely watched the events of 1730, provided an important account of Anna's ascension.[4]

In 1799–1801 Spain severed ties after Paul I of Russia assumed the Catholic title of Grand Master of Knights Hospitaller; in 1833–1856 Russia closed the embassies, denying legitimacy of Isabella II of Spain.[1] Apart from these two conflicts, relationships were uneventful; the two countries were never engaged in direct war against each other. In 1756–1763 they were allies in the Seven Years' War. During the Napoleonic Wars the two countries were either allies or foes, but did not engage each other directly.

Soviet period

The Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with the Second Spanish Republic on July 28, 1933. An Old Bolshevik, former Commissar for Education Anatoly Lunacharsky, was appointed Plenipotentiary Representative (ambassador) to Spain but died en route to his station, in France. His replacement, Marsel Rosenberg (1896–1938), and Consul-general Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko (1883–1938) arrived in Madrid in 1936, when Spanish Civil War was already underway. Both were soon called back to Moscow and executed for an alleged trotskist conspiracy.[1]

The Soviet Union actively supported the Republicans through the course of the Civil War with military advisers, "volunteers" and weapons supplied in exchange for Bank of Spain gold reserves later known as Moscow gold (see Foreign involvement in the Spanish Civil War). The monument to Soviet volunteers in Madrid, inaugurated in 1989 by mayor Juan Barranco Gallardo and Soviet ambassador Sergey Romanovsky, lists 182 names of identified Soviet combatants killed during the war.[5] With the fall of Republicans in 1939, Soviet Union severed all ties with Francoist Spain. During World War II the Blue Division of Spanish volunteers fought against the Soviets on the Eastern Front, but Francisco Franco steered Spain away from direct participation in the war.

Spain's relations with the Soviets after World War II were described as "the worst, though hardly the most problematic",[6] culminating in Nikita Khrushchev's speech against Franco's regime in the United Nations General Assembly on October 1, 1960 and Franco's ban on the Spain vs. USSR game of the 1960 European Nations' Cup scheduled earlier in the same year.[6][7] Soon, however, the same leaders began gradual reestablishment of contacts. In April 1963 Khrushchev and Franco exchanged letters on disarmament[8] and the fate of Julián Grimau;[9] in January 1964 Franco appealed to Khrushchev again.[10] According to Soviet explanation of events, the move was initiated by the Spanish government.[11]

Until 1969, relations were informally maintained through Soviet and Spanish embassies in France. In 1967 Spanish and Soviet representatives agreed to open their seaports to ships carrying flag of the other country; in 1969 the Soviet state-owned Black Sea Shipping Company opened an office in Madrid – the first Soviet establishment in Spain since the Civil War. This office, staffed by professional diplomats, and headed by Sergey Bogomolov, who relocated to Madrid from Paris, doubled as the de facto Soviet consulate.[11]

The two countries signed an agreement on foreign trade in 1972 and established permanent trading missions in 1973; these offices assumed and maintained consular duties. Igor Ivanov, future foreign minister of independent Russia, has served in Madrid in 1973–1983.[12] Finally, after Franco's death, the Soviet Union and Spain reestablished full diplomatic relations on February 9, 1977.[11] Bogomolov assumed the title of Soviet ambassador and presented his credentials to king Juan Carlos I of Spain on May 5, 1977. Relations of this period were not exactly friendly, marred with mutual expulsion of alleged spies operating under diplomatic immunity;[11] things got worse when Spain was admitted into NATO in 1981, an act regarded by the USSR as a "violation of Soviet interests".[13]

After Bogomolov moved up to a senior position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1978, he was replaced by Yuri Dubinin, who steered Soviet policy in Spain through the last phase of the Cold War, until 1986.[14] Dubinin actively promoted the idea of a state visit by Juan Carlos to Moscow; only after five years of preparations did Andrei Gromyko approve the visit[14] that materialized in May 1984.[15] Alexander Igorevich Kuznetsov, current (2009, appointed in June 2005) Russian ambassador to Spain and Andorra, has served in Madrid under Dubinin in 1982–1986.[16]

The Embassy of Russia in Madrid, inherited from the Soviet Union, was built in 1986–1991. The land lot at 155, Calle de Velasquez, was provided to the Soviets in 1980, but was loaded with zoning regulations limiting building height to 6 meters, presence of Spanish military cables running underground and a gypsy squat town sprawling above – these obstacles held off construction for years.[17] The building was initially designed by painter Ilya Glazunov; Glazunov later contributed interior design, building structure was redesigned by architect Anatoly Polikarpov.[17]

Russian Federation

Spain established diplomatic relations with the independent Russian Federation on December 9, 1991. Igor Ivanov, a veteran of the Soviet embassy in Madrid, was appointed Ambassador of Russia to Spain[1] and served in Madrid until 1994.[18] In April 1994 president Boris Yeltsin became the first Russian head of state to pay a state visit to Spain. Juan Carlos visited Russia in 2002,[19] 2006,[20] 2008 and 2012.[21] Two months after the informal 2006 visit, media reported that the king shot a sedated, domesticated bear (a common treat for high-ranking guests at Russian hunting reserves).[20] The king's spokeswoman and Russian authorities denied the fact.[22]

Spain's share in Russian foreign trade in early 2000s hovered at just above 1% of Russian exports (dominated by oil and raw materials); Spanish exports to Russia were significantly lower (2001: 488 million US dollars vs. 890 million).[23] In 2008, according to Dmitry Medvedev, foreign trade levelled at 2 billion Euro (less than 1% of either country's foreign trade) while that between Russia and other countries comparable to Spain is measured in tens of billion euro.[24] Spain's share in foreign direct investment to Russian economy remains insignificant, the largest investment (as at 2003), at 319 million US dollars, has been made by Segura Consulting.[25]

In December 2000 the relations were strained by Spain' refusal to extradite fugitive banker and media executive Vladimir Gusinsky. Gusinsky, arrested and released in Spain, emigrated to Israel in April 2001.[26]

During the most recent state visit of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Spain, in March 2009, two countries signed an energy agreement giving Spanish companies greater access to Russian fossil fuels in exchange to easing Spanish regulations regarding purchase of Spanish energy companies by Russian businesses.[27] According to Spanish prime minister Zapatero, "The memorandum means greater security in Spain's energy supplies and it guarantees better access for our companies to Russian energy reserves".[27] The memorandum was followed by an agreement between Gazprom and Gas Natural that gives the Spanish side access to Gazprom's export pipelines and, potentially, Shtokman gas field output, in exchange for a stake in Spanish electric utilities.[27]

The new Concept of Russian Foreign Policy from February 2013, devotes a separate paragraph to the importance of developing bilateral relations with European countries such as Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, while Spain is relegated to the category of "other". The two countries signed a military co-operation agreement in July 2013.

See also

Russians in Spain

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g
  2. ^ Hillgarth, p. 481
  3. ^ a b Hillgarth, p. 480
  4. ^ Anisimov, pp. 80-84
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Payne, p. 531
  7. ^ Spanish withdrawal from this tournament paved way to Soviets winning the 1960 title.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d
  12. ^ Gladman, p. 586
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ Ivanov, preface
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^ President of Russia - Meeting with King Juan Carlos I of Spain
  22. ^
  23. ^ Gladman, p. 330
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Gladman, p. 307
  27. ^ a b c
  • Informative site on: 2011, "Spain Year" in Russia and "Russia Year" in Spain

External links

  • Informative site: 2011, "Spain Year" in Russia and "Russia Year" in Spain


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