Addressing the Spanish congress on Tuesday, Gabriel Rufián, Barcelona deputy and spokesman for the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), pointed to the disparity between Europe’s treatment of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Do you know what the difference is between Erdoğan massacring Kurds and Putin massacring Ukrainians?” Rufián asked.
“It’s simple. We know nothing of the former because (Turkey) is part of NATO. That’s it. That’s the only difference,” he continued. “International legality à la carte.”
The Catalan deputy said NATO was “the arms trade delegate of the United States in Europe for 80 years”, and that the bloc had merely “defended the interests of the United States in Europe”.
Speaking on the arrival of Ukrainian refugees into the European Union, Rufián pointed to the stark difference in how welcoming host countries were, compared with previous arrivals.
“Last Monday Brussels activated the European rule of unlimited reception of refugees,” Rufián said. “Why now? Why after so much migration, so much misery, and so many wars?”
The ERC deputy asked what the difference was “between a death in the Mediterranean and another on the streets of Kyiv”.
“The answer is extremely cruel,” he continued. “Because now they are blonde with blue eyes.”
However, Rufián said, Ukrainians fleeing the war were the same as those who had fled before, citing Kurds, Syrians, Afghans and Palestinians among others.
On Monday, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said at least 400,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered EU territory.
The United Nations announced that more than one million people have already fled Ukraine.
Millions more are expected to arrive as Russia’s offensive continues on the eighth day. On Thursday, Russian troops seized control of Kherson, a key city in southern Ukraine. Attacks continue in the capital Kyiv, northeastern Kharkiv and southeastern Mariupol.
The EU has announced severe sanctions on Russia over what it calls the “unprovoked and unjustified military aggression carried out by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”.
Spain has one of the smallest Kurdish populations in Europe, but Catalan politicians in particular have a long history of showing solidarity with Kurdish people.
Most recently, in October 2021, the Catalan parliament approved a resolution for the official recognition of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), and the ERC urged the Spanish congress to do the same.