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Spanish warship sets sail for Black Sea amid tensions around Ukraine

Around 200 sailors are on vessel that is mobilizing to deter Russia

Alyssa McMurtry   | 22.01.2022
Spanish warship sets sail for Black Sea amid tensions around Ukraine

MADRID

A Spanish warship and around 200 sailors set sail for the Black Sea on Saturday to bolster NATO’s presence in the region as tensions run high around the borders of Ukraine, where there is a large Russian military buildup.

The ship was originally set to join the NATO mission in around three weeks, but its departure was accelerated as the crisis between Russia, Ukraine, and its allies intensified.

The Spanish frigate will join the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), which already includes Turkish and Italian warships, according to the NATO website.

The group’s role is to provide NATO with immediate operational response capability.

On Friday, Naval Commander Gonzalo Leira Neia told the media that the warship is combat-ready and able to rapidly respond to any crisis that may emerge.

It is prepared to stay in the region for more than two months.

Both the Spanish warship and the SNMG2 had previously directed efforts toward combatting piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

This is not Spain’s only recent mobilization to the region.

On Monday, the Spanish patrol vessel Meteoro also embarked for the Black Sea.

Earlier this week, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles also announced that Spain offered to send fighter jets to Bulgaria.

She said Spain is a committed NATO member but hopes for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

These preparations for the conflict, however, are already causing problems at home for Spain’s progressive ruling coalition.

Unidas Podemos, the far-left junior coalition party, has already expressed its firm opposition to the deployments.

"We are heading toward an intractable conflict if we do not focus on reducing tensions and strategic autonomy to defend our own interests and values," it said in a statement.

The Spanish Presidency, in a statement, said that President "Pedro Sanchez has been following the situation in Ukraine very closely, in permanent contact with the leaders of the European institutions and NATO, as well as with the Heads of State and Government of Spain’s partner and allied countries."

It also underlined that Sanchez was recently in contact with European Council head Charles Michel and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell after Sanchez’s talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The statement added that Sanchez will talk with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on heightened tensions between Ukraine and Russia.​​​​​​​ Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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