THE recovery of Spain’s already fragile economy could be teetering on the brink as the EU decides whether to impose sanctions against Russia.
A crackdown on Russian investment and assets in Europe would badly hit Spain, which has seen a large influx of Russian capital over the last few years.
It comes after the UK government openly accused Russia of arming and supporting the Ukrainian rebels who shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet last week, killing 295 people.
Britain is now pushing for EU sanctions to freeze the assets of Putin’s wealthy group of ‘cronies’ – many of whom have financial connections with the Costa del Sol – unless Putin cooperates with a Flight MH17 probe.
But Spain is joined by Italy, Finland and France in its reluctance to impose strong sanctions – in part because of strong economic ties with the country.
Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, however sided with the UK insisting that Europe would need to accept the economic consequences of imposing tougher sanctions on Russia, after last week’s tragedy.
“This is no longer a question of the economy and trade,” he said. “This is a question of security, and it’s a question of justice for those who lost their lives.”
There has been no confirmation as to exactly which ‘cronies’ would be targeted in a clampdown. But there have been rumours that it could include Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has close links to the Putin regime, and is a regular visitor to the Costa del Sol.
The Olive Press revealed in May that six Russian oligarchs – possibly including Putin himself – are building a €19 million mansion inside the walls of one of the world’s most exclusive residential estate – Marbella’s own Zagaleta.
Putin is rumoured to have visited the area a number of times over the last few years.
Marbella town hall statistics revealed that there has been a significant increase in Russian expats and holidaymakers over the last year.
In that time, two Russian magazines and a radio station have opened, as well as various businesses entirely geared towards the Russian enclave.