Romania’s decision to host on its territory elements of the NATO anti-missile shield attracted a lot of flak from Russia in the past.
The Russian Federation considers Romania’s idea to deploy NATO troops permanently to the Black Sea as provocative, the head of Russian diplomacy was quoted by NEZAVISIMAIA GAZETA as saying. Serghei Lavrov has underlined that all decisions concerning this region, particularly those on security issues, must be made by the Black Sea riparian countries. Lavrov has voiced hope that “the situation will return to normal and the Romanian partners will reach the correct conclusion”.
Russia – the head of the diplomacy in Moscow went on to say – pronounces itself firmly against any violations of the 1936 Montreux Convention clearly regulating the tonnage and the period of uninterrupted presence in the Black Sea of the military vessels belonging to the non-riparian countries. Lavrov stood for reactivating the programmes within the cooperation initiative between the fleets of the Black Sea countries, ‘blackseafor’.
According to Lavrov, the activity of this organisation has been frozen de facto mainly at Romania’s initiative. Moscow’s reactions come several months after a proposal by Romanian president Klaus Iohannis regarding the deployment of a permanent NATO force to the Black Sea. The proposal, which at first sparked various reactions among the allies, was later taken under advisement by NATO officials. At the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting in Brussels in October, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that an increasing number of members had announced their contributions to strengthening the organization’s eastern flank to cope with Russia’s threats at the Baltic and the Black Seas.
Stoltenberg pointed out that NATO members had confirmed their readiness to deploy ground, naval and air forces to Romania in a bid to strengthen NATO presence in the Black Sea region. These countries are Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United States. On that occasion NATO hailed the numerous contributions by its members to the four battalions it is going to deploy in 2017 to the three Baltic countries and Poland against the rising tensions with Moscow.
The progressive deployment to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland of the four battalions, 1,000 strong each, was decided at NATO’s last summit in Warsaw in July. The move was in line with the other measures taken by the Alliance in order to appease the concerns of Russia’s NATO neighbors, whose vulnerability increased after the Russian – Ukrainian conflict and Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Both NATO and Romanian officials have repeatedly underlined the Alliance’s intention not to trigger but to prevent conflicts with Russia.
(Translated by D. Bilt)