Romania and the Ukraine Crisis: More Soldiers – More Security?

Status: 05.02.2022 03:57

The crisis in neighboring Ukraine is making many Romanians nervous: They fear that an escalation will spill over into their country. Does the planned deployment of US troops contribute to the feeling of security?

By Clemens Verenkotte, ARD Studio Vienna

The tense situation in neighboring Ukraine – when the 39-year-old Romanian Cosmin thinks about it, it scares him; “Afraid of what’s going to happen,” he says. But something reassures him at the same time: “As long as I know that we have the support of the Allies, I don’t see a problem for us.”

Clemens Verenkotte
ARD Studio Vienna

The fact that their country has been a member of NATO since 2004 is becoming more and more important to many Romanians these days and weeks. 53-year-old Andreea says she is following the massive concentration of Russian troops along the northern and eastern borders of Ukraine with great concern. She too is “very afraid that this will affect Romania” and could have “serious consequences” for her country. She feels “safe” after the United States’ announcement that 1,000 American soldiers will be deployed to Romania: It helps her to “feel safe” from the “aggressiveness of Russian politics.”

The Russian Navy at a glance

Romania shares a border of around 650 kilometers with Ukraine – and since the annexation of Crimea, Russia’s navy has been Romania’s immediate maritime neighbor on the Black Sea.

If Ukraine needs help, then the government should help, says an elderly woman walking in central Bucharest with her granddaughter by the hand. But, she qualifies, “without us going there,” because Romania has “no business whatsoever” in Ukraine. In addition, Romania is in NATO and will probably take the necessary measures. And the extra soldiers? They should come – “we have room for them,” she adds with a laugh.

Russian warships like the frigate “Admiral Essen” have moved even closer to Romania due to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.

Build: AP

A significant increase

So far, NATO has been permanently represented in Romania with around 4,000 men from various member countries. The Americans have 900 soldiers in the country. Romania’s President Klaus Johannis visited the Câmpia Turzii air force base in Transylvania this week, which the US Air Force is expanding for a total of 150 million dollars.

Johannis spoke of an “extremely tense time”: there are obvious tendencies “to return to the politics of violence and to question the current liberal international order and the European security architecture built up after the Cold War”. Under these circumstances, Romania must be very well prepared to “counteract the aggressive actions”.

Growing confidence in NATO

Lucian, 39, sees his country as a “small pawn on the Russia-NATO border.” He finds it “normal and natural that allies now want to send units to support Romania. As long as the Russians mobilize 100,000 people on the border with Ukraine, NATO must also start mobilizing American, Spanish and French soldiers on the NATO borders. ”

According to a survey published by the Romanian polling institute INSCOP Research at the end of January, 70 percent of the Romanians surveyed believe that NATO will defend their country if the danger of war in Ukraine increases.

When asked which organization they place the greatest trust in, 60 percent named NATO first. In September last year, before Russian troops were concentrated around Ukraine, it was only 47 percent.

Romania – what does the population think of the US reinforcements?

Clemens Verenkotte, ARD Wien, 4.2.2022 · 14:57

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