NATO launched a new multinational force in Romania on Monday, October 9 to counter Russia in southeast Europe and on the Black Sea.
The core of NATO’s Multinational Division Southeast is a Romanian brigade of up to 4,000 soldiers, supported by troops from nine other countries, alongside a separate deployment of 900 U.S. troops already in place, Reuters reported. The plans are to include additional air and sea assets to give the force greater capabilities.
“Our purpose is peace, not war,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Bucharest. “We are not a threat for Russia. But we need dialogue from a strong position of defense and discouragement,” he said
“We are sending a very clear message: NATO is here, NATO is strong and NATO is united,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Romanian, Polish, Spanish and Portuguese soldiers at the Craiova military base in south-eastern Romania.
At a press conference, Stoltenberg explained more about the alliance’s presence in Romania.
“Italian and Canadian pilots are flying together with pilots from Romania and Bulgaria in the Black Sea region. And we have increased maritime presence in the Black Sea with more port calls and more naval exercises,” he said.
Stoltenburg also highlighted the importance of the NATO missile defense site in Deveselu, and welcomed the announcement that Romania would spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, a strong talking point of U.S. president Donald Trump.
In early 2015, after the war in Donbass, NATO ministers decided that Multinational Corps Northeast headquartered in Szczecin, Poland, would be augmented to better defend the Baltic States, and that the new Multinational Division Southeast would be established in Romania.
At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, NATO agreed that the tailored forward presence in southeast Europe would incude land forces training within a multinational framework brigade in Romania, and on the establishment of Headquarters Multinational Division Southeast (HQ MND-SE), which became operational in June 2017 and is designated to have 280 personnel.
The Romania HQ is part of one of eight NATO Force Integration Units in central and eastern Europe designed to facilitate readiness and rapid force deployment, and it commands forces deployed in in Bulgaria and Romania in NATO’s southeast region.
British Typhoon jets from RAF Conningsby were to be deployed to Romania over the summer to contribute to NATO’s Southern Air Policing mission.
In July, 5,000 troops from NATO and partner countries took part in exercises in Romania as part of a series of military exercises involving 25,000 personnel from 20 allied and partner countries.