A Spanish warship and around 200 sailors set sail for the Black Sea on Saturday to bolster NATO’s presence in the region amid heightened tensions on the Ukrainian border.
The ship was originally scheduled to join the NATO mission in about three weeks, but its departure was accelerated as the crisis between Russia, Ukraine and its allies escalated.
The Spanish frigate will join 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 an immediate operational response capability.
On Friday, Naval Commander Gonzalo Leira Neia told media that the warship is combat ready and able to respond quickly to any crisis that may arise.
He is ready to stay more than two months in the region.
The Spanish warship and SNMG2 had previously directed their efforts towards countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
This is not the only recent mobilization of Spain in the region.
On Monday, the Spanish patrol boat Meteoro also set sail for the Black Sea.
Earlier this week, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles also announced that Spain had offered to send fighter jets to Bulgaria.
She said Spain was a committed NATO member but hoped for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
However, these preparations for the conflict are already causing problems at home for the progressive coalition in power in Spain.
Unidas Podemos, the far-left junior coalition party, has already expressed strong opposition to the deployments.
“We are headed for an insoluble conflict if we do not focus on decreasing tensions and strategic autonomy to defend our own interests and values,” he said in a statement.