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Romania – a key partner supporting NATO’s deterrence and defense efforts

An overview of Romania's latest contributions to strengthen NATO's Eastern Flank and security in the Black Sea region

Etat-major des armees/France
Etat-major des armees/France

, 15.05.2024, 14:00

Stepping up NATO’s military presence on the Eastern Flank is a key element of Allied deterrence. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its subsequent invasion of Ukraine in 2022 are events that have prompted NATO leaders to rethink their defense strategies. Romania holds an important place within the Alliance, a true anchor in the southern part of the allied eastern flank and a riparian of the Black Sea, a region with strategic relevance for European and Euro-Atlantic security. At the NATO summits of Madrid and Vilnius, in 2022 and 2023 respectively, Romania raised the issue of consolidating NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region.

 

 

NATO’s advanced posture currently includes 8 multinational battle groups, provided by framework nations and supplemented by other allies. They are deployed in the 3 Baltic States, in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, thus covering the entire eastern flank. In Romania, the battle group is led by France, whereas the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg are contributing troops. Currently, the group is at battalion level, but it is expected that, starting next year, it will grow to a brigade totaling 4,000 soldiers. Also in Romania, NATO also has several command structures: the South-East Multinational Corps in Sibiu (center) and the South-East Multinational Division in Bucharest, but also the South-East Multinational Brigade in Craiova (south) and the NATO Forces Integration Unit in Bucharest.

 

 

Romania is a key partner in the development of the Alliance’s deterrence and defense efforts on the Eastern Flank by operationalizing the anti-missile shield at Deveselu (south) and by strengthening security in the Black Sea, jointly with its allies. A good example in that regard is the beginning of construction works for the expansion of the “Mihail Kogălniceanu” military base in Constanța County (southeast), which will be able to accommodate 10,000 NATO soldiers. The Romanian government pledged to invest 2.5 bln EUR in this project. Romania currently hosts around 5,000 foreign troops.

 

 

The need to establish a permanent NATO naval group in the Black Sea region has been increasingly discussed of late. Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey must identify a common solution for ensuring security in the Black Sea. The model of the Baltic Sea, which practically became a so-called ‘NATO lake’ after the accession of Sweden and Finland, can be a good example in that respect. Strengthening relations between NATO and Ukraine or even accepting Ukraine as a NATO member can open up new possibilities for strengthening the Black Sea region.

 

 

The fact that our country has the largest land border with Ukraine has impacted Romania’s role and position at NATO level. With respect to support for the neighboring country, Romania might offer Ukraine one of its Patriot air defense systems. It is a hypothesis advanced by president Klaus Iohannis following his visit to the USA. The decision can only be taken after consulting the Supreme Defense Council. Romania has four such Patriot systems, one of which has already been field-tested, and the other three are in advanced stages of operationalization. Should Romania press forward in that direction, it would be on these three systems that would reach Ukraine. “It is a rather intense discussion about who can provide Ukraine with Patriot systems. Romania has such systems at its disposal and Ukraine has approached us. President Joe Biden brought this up and I said I’m open to it. I will have to further discuss this back home, in the Supreme Defense Council, to see how we can solve the problem, what we can offer and, obviously, what we can receive in return because it is unacceptable that Romania remains without anti-aircraft defense”, president Iohannis said. (VP)

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