EA / VIDEO: ATLAS

Spain offers NATO fighter jets as tensions with Russia mount

The Blas de Lezo frigate is also expected to join exercises in the Black Sea

MATEO BALÍN

Spain is to deploy fighter jets to Bulgaria in support of NATO missions as fears grow that Russia is poised to invade eastern Ukraine.

Spanish fighters have been previously deployed in the Baltic region and Romania to conduct surveillance and participate in NATO exercises.

NATO adopted the Enhanced Air Surveillance mission in 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea. Spain periodically participates in this operation conducting aerial surveillance from bases in Lithuania and Estonia. Additional focus is now being placed on NATO’s southern border with Russia, hence the deployment of six fighter jets to the Constanza base in Romania last year and the upcoming deployment of fighter jets to Bulgaria for a period of two months.

Defence Minister Margarita Minister Robles said on 20 January that Spain plans to send the navy’s most modern frigate, Blas de Lezo, to participate in NATO exercises in the Black Sea.

Speaking at an event in Ciudad Real, Robles said that Spain is a "serious ally" of NATO.

"The position of Spain, and of NATO as a whole, is that the response to Russia should be diplomatic and that there is a de-escalation," she said. But in reference to Russia she added, “You can't tell any country what to do. NATO is going to protect and defend the sovereignty of any country that wants to join it.”