(Redesigned; adds quotes, references to companies)
MADRID, April 5 (Reuters) – Comparing the Russian bombardment of his country to the bloody airstrike on the Spanish town of Guernica by Nazi Germany, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the Spanish parliament on Tuesday that the West must do more to force Moscow to abandon its invasion.
Shortly after addressing the United Nations Security Council, Zelenskiy asked Spanish lawmakers to reflect on the current situation where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians live in fear, without water, food or medicine, and he called on Spanish companies still operating in Russia to leave.
Earlier on Tuesday, Spain followed several other European countries and pledged to expel 27 Russian diplomats.
“Imagine people now – in Europe – living for weeks in basements to save lives. Bombings, aerial bombs. It’s April 2022, and the reality in Ukraine is the same as April 1937 . When the whole world learned the name of one of your cities – Guernica,” Zelenskiy said.
Adolf Hitler sent planes in support of Francisco Franco’s Nationalist forces to strike the Basque city on April 26, 1937, killing up to 1,600 people and injuring hundreds. The tragedy prompted Pablo Picasso to paint a masterpiece of the same name.
Calling for new international sanctions against Moscow, Zelenskiy praised Spanish companies that have ceased operations in Russia while targeting some companies still working there.
“I know that many of your companies have already stopped financing the Russian military machine through taxes. I am also grateful to your state and your society for its principled stance on sanctions,” he said. in front of a crowded lower house in Madrid.
But he directly appealed to blasting equipment supplier Maxam, ceramics group Porcelanosa and capital goods manufacturers association Sercobe to stop doing business with Russia.
Porcelanosa said it has not launched any new sales in Russia since the invasion, but has fulfilled contracts with distributors signed before the war.
“In March, the Russian market represented only 0.009% of the company’s sales…the equivalent of 197,000 euros,” the company said in a statement.
Neither Maxam nor Sercobe responded to requests for comment. (Reporting by Nathan Allen, Belén Carreño and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Leslie Adler)