Some countries have been criticized for dumping old stockpiles of weapons and ammunition as part of their military aid to Kyiv. So, for example, a few days after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was reported that Berlin intended to deliver to the Ukrainian forces old portable 9K32 Strela-2 anti-aircraft missiles [NATO code: SA-7 “Grail” ] [MANPADS] that remained inactive in the Bundeswehr warehouses, after having been handed over to the Nationale Volksarmee [armed forces of the GDR]. And, of course, it turned out that they were unusable.

However, during the ceremony organized in kyiv to celebrate Independence Day on August 24, it became known that members of the Ukrainian border guard were equipped with CETME-L assault rifles, made in Spain. This was surprising at the time, since Madrid had not seen fit to communicate the donation of such weapons to Ukraine.

But beyond that, it turns out that the Spanish forces decided to return their CETME-L to the armory and replace them with German-made HK G36 rifles… twenty-five years ago.

The CETME-L was an evolution of the CETME-A, whose development and production had been decided during the Franco regime to replace the Mauser rifles of the Spanish forces. The models produced then [CETME-A, CETME-B and CETME-C] had a good reputation for their reliability and precision. But things went wrong when the rifle had to be adapted to NATO standards, which Spain had joined in 1982.

The CETME-L did not live up to the reputation of its predecessors. Prone to corrosion, brittle, it had an unfortunate tendency to overheat in burst mode, reducing accuracy, and to have faulty magazines. Hence the decision of the Spanish Ministry of Defense to get rid of them and store 25,000 rifles as a precaution.

In 2014, Madrid considered giving part of CETME-L’s stock to the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State [IS or Daesh] in northern Iraq. This proposal did not continue…

Be that as it may, this donation to Ukraine is causing a bit of a stir, not least because of the dubious quality of the CETME-L. According to the Spanish press, between 1,000 and 2,000 rifles have been delivered to kyiv to equip the border guard and military police.

Laurent Lagneau