Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Spain after outrage

Russia’s decision to cancel the request comes as NATO allies raised concerns over the plan, citing Russia’s operations against civilians in Syria

Russia has reportedly withdrawn its request to refuel Syria-bound warships from the Spanish port of Ceut after continues pressure from its NATO allies.

Russia earlier sought permission from Spain to dock its naval fleet headed by the Admiral Kuznetzov aircraft carrier to Syria in the North African enclave of Ceuta. The Spanish foreign ministry had said it is reviewing plans to permit Russian warships to refuel in country’s ports.

Russia’s decision to cancel the request comes as NATO allies raised concerns over the plan citing Russia’s operations against civilians in Syria.

A statement from Spanish foreign ministry stated that “the Russian Embassy in Madrid has just informed us that it is withdrawing the request for permission for stopovers for these ships and these stopovers have therefore been canceled,” Reuters reported.

The ministry also said that it requested clarification from the Russian embassy  after reports said these ships would participate in supporting military action in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Madrid said it had allowed three Russian ships to dock in Ceuta between Oct. 28 and Nov. 2 as part of a long-standing practice of permitting Russian naval ships to visit its ports, the news agency reported.

NATO officials including secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and former UK navy chief Admiral West had criticized the refueling plan earlier.

The UK defence secretary, Michael Fallon, reportedly said earlier: “We would be extremely concerned if a NATO member should consider assisting a Russian carrier group that might end up bombing Syria.”

The naval group moving through the eastern Mediterranean consisted of at least a nuclear-powered battle cruiser, two anti-submarine warships and four support vessels, media reports said.

Carrying fighter bombers and helicopters, the flotilla is expected to join around ten other Russian vessels already off the Syrian coast.