Spain will send four fighters to Bulgaria in February to strengthen NATO’s dissuasion against Russia | Spain

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Spain will send four fighters to Bulgaria in February to strengthen NATO's dissuasion against Russia | Spain
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The 'Blas de Lezo' frigate sets sail from the Ferrol Military Arsenal to head for the Black Sea due to the escalation of tension between Russia and Ukraine.
The ‘Blas de Lezo’ frigate sets sail from the Ferrol Military Arsenal to head for the Black Sea due to the escalation of tension between Russia and Ukraine.slim kiko (EFE)

Spain will send four Eurofighter fighters to Bulgaria next month, in full escalation of tension between NATO and Russia, according to sources from the Atlantic Alliance. The deployment of a detachment of the Air Force in a Bulgarian air base was foreseen in the agreement of the Council of Ministers of December 21, which approved the contribution of the Spanish Armed Forces to NATO, UN and European Union missions during 2022, according to government sources, but it has taken on a new dimension in the face of the threat of invasion of Ukraine.

The stay of the four Spanish fighter-bombers will last for two months and will serve to cover the deficiencies of Bulgaria in the defense of its own airspace, within a plan designed by NATO that includes surveillance patrols over the Black Sea. An Air Force detachment, then made up of six Eurofighters and 130 soldiers, was already deployed during the months of February and March last year in Constanta (Romania), from where they made some 400 flights. The difference this year is made by the climate generated by the concentration of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine.

NATO has not activated new military plans before the order of Moscow, but, after meeting its Military Committee for the first time in three decades on an extraordinary basis at the end of last year, it has decided, as a preventive measure, to shorten the enlistment times of their reaction forces and urge allies to contribute and committed units. This has motivated the frigate Blas de Lezo will set sail on Saturday from its base in Ferrol (A Coruña), advancing its integration into the fleet of SNMG-2 escort ships of the Atlantic Alliance by three weeks. In addition to the frigate, the Spanish commitment to NATO includes the Maritime Action Ship (BAM) Meteor (which exercises the command of the SNMCMG-2 minehunter fleet until June), a Combat Supply Ship (BAC) and a minehunter, in successive periods. In addition, since 2017 Spain has had a mechanized contingent, with 350 soldiers, at the Adazi base (Latvia), 120 kilometers from the Russian border, as part of NATO’s Reinforced Forward Presence Operation. And in the spring it will deploy, for four months and for the ninth time, another fighter detachment in Lithuania, to protect the airspace of the Baltic republics from Russian incursions.

Finally, Spain has assigned different military units to the NATO Enhanced Response Force (e-NRF) and the Very High Readiness Joint Force (VJTF). These units, which are located in their own bases on Spanish soil, are ready to mobilize in the event of a crisis. Experts believe that, if the feared invasion of Ukraine were to take place, the Alliance would resort to them first, not to intervene in the conflict -Washington and its allies have only threatened Moscow with economic reprisals-, but to reinforce Ukraine’s defenses. NATO partners closest to Russia and send a message of security and solidarity to those countries.

Although a military clash between NATO and Russia is ruled out, experts admit that the current situation carries serious risks. The presence of NATO and Russian warships in the waters of the Black Sea and the overflight of its airspace by Allied and Russian fighters, in a climate of war escalation, can generate an unwanted incident at any time by any of the parties. . That is the scenario that the Spanish pilots and sailors will have to face.

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The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, expressed on Saturday his commitment to “unity, relaxation and dialogue to resolve the crisis with Russia. It is time for diplomacy,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that he is following “the situation very closely in permanent contact with representatives of the EU and NATO, as well as with European leaders.” In addition to the conversations he recently had with the French president, the Norwegian and British prime ministers and the meeting with the German chancellor, Sánchez’s contacts with the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, the high representative for Foreign Policy, were added on Saturday. , Josep Borell, and the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.

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