According to Russia’s demand: Romania wants reinforcements instead of NATO withdrawal

As of: 01/21/2022 5:37 p.m

Bucharest firmly rejects Russia’s demands for a NATO withdrawal from Romania: President Johannis welcomes US plans to increase the military presence. Neighboring Bulgaria is also positioning itself clearly.

By Clemens Verenkotte, ARD Studio Vienna

Romania’s Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Mircea Geoana, has firmly rejected a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov that Russia is demanding the withdrawal of NATO units, including equipment and weapons, from Romania and Bulgaria as part of so-called “security guarantees”.

Clemens Verenkotte
ARD Studio Vienna

“There is no way to negotiate this, no way to compromise NATO’s military presence on the territory of NATO countries,” Geoana told Romanian TV channel Digi24. Where and in what form the alliance’s military presence is placed is at the discretion of NATO: “That’s actually none of the Russian Federation’s business.”

“Complicated security situation”

In the past few days, US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron announced that they would strengthen NATO’s presence in Romania. Romania’s President Klaus Johannis welcomed these announcements. In this way, the strategic partnership will be strengthened “on the eastern flank, in the Black Sea region”.

Around 1,000 US soldiers are currently stationed in Romania, which, like neighboring Bulgaria, has been a NATO member since 2004. After talks with NATO partners, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said that all allies had reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the alliance’s eastern flank: this should be done as soon as possible. “Of course these are decisions that need to be implemented at the level of the North Atlantic Alliance,” he said. “On the other hand, this consolidation and the announcements made by the American and French presidents also have a deterrent effect in the current very complicated security situation.”

No second-class NATO countries

Romania shares a 650-kilometer border with Ukraine. In addition, since the occupation and annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea in 2014, Romania has de facto shared a maritime border with Russia in the Black Sea. According to Romanian military experts, Moscow has secured a strong position in the Black Sea through the annexation of Crimea. This has strengthened Russia’s control over ports, trade routes and energy routes. The Romanian government has therefore repeatedly called for the deployment of additional US and NATO troops.

In Bulgaria, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov responded to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement after the withdrawal of NATO units from Romania and Bulgaria by saying that Bulgaria is “a sovereign state that made its decision a long time ago to become a member of NATO.”

Accordingly, he stressed, “we alone decide on the organization of our country’s defense, in cooperation with our partners”. There are “no second-class member states” within the alliance for which collective defense is optionally used.

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