Nato launched a new multinational force in Craiova, southern Romania, on October 9, as part of its Forward presence in the southeastern alliance states.
The move is aimed at countering Russia along Nato’s eastern flank and checking a growing Russian presence in the Black Sea following the Kremlin’s 2014 seizure of Crimea. The new base is not far from the US facilities at Deveselu (Aegis Ashore site), part of the anti-missile defence system in Europe.
“We are stepping up the Nato presence in Romania with both the multinational brigade but also with more air policing… And we have increased maritime presence in the Black Sea with more port calls and more naval exercises,” Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a joint press conference with Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose.
“So this is an example of how Nato is adapting to a more challenging security environment,” Stoltenberg added.
Romania has been pushing for bigger Nato naval presence on the Black Sea for more than a year, but found its neighbour Bulgaria wary of provoking Russia.
“We need dialogue from a strong position of defence and discouragement,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis told the Nato Parliamentary Assembly in Bucharest, before flying to the Craiova military base.
The force will initially be built around a Romanian brigade of up to 4,000 soldiers, supported by troops from nine other Nato countries, and complementing a separate deployment of 900 US troops who are already in place, Reuters reported.
Beside Romania, Poland is the biggest troop contributor to the base in Craiova. Bulgaria, Italy and Portugal will train regularly with the force here, and Germany is also expected to contribute.
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