Spain will send four fighter jets and 130 troops to Bulgaria

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SOFIA, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Spain will send four warplanes and 130 troops to Bulgaria this week for air policing tasks amid tensions over the Russian military build-up on the Ukrainian border, the Bulgarian defence ministry said on Wednesday.

The first Spanish Eurofighter jets are expected to land in Bulgaria by the end of the week for airspace protection duties together with the Bulgarian Air Force until the end of March, the ministry said.

“The mission is implementing measures to ensure the security of NATO member countries on the Eastern flank,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

The Netherlands is expected to deploy two F-35 aircraft to Bulgaria in April and May for air policing activities.

Bulgaria, a NATO member since 2004, plans to set up a battlegroup of up to 1,000 troops under Bulgarian command and in close cooperation with NATO, which will also include soldiers from other allied countries.

Ukraine believes there is still a chance of resolving the standoff through diplomacy but that there are already grounds to impose sanctions on Moscow, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Nick Macfie

A file photo of Spanish troops during a military exercise at the Zaragoza Air Base in Spain. EC Audiovisual Service

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