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Friday, April 17, 2015

NATO expands influence in Romania


DAILY SABAH
Istanbul
NATO-troopsIn a move preparing for a long confrontation with Russia, NATO is most likely to station heavy military equipment in Romania, U.S. General Philip Breedlove said on Wednesday. The head of the U.S. European Command, who is the NATO supreme allied commander in Europe, said that NATO’s heavy military equipment to Romania “will be announced very soon. … If Romania is asked to participate, they will do so as they have done in every NATO venture so far, and have been a great host and great allies.” There has so far been no information about what kind of NATO weapons will be deployed in the former communist country. Yet it is highly believed that if an agreement is achieved between the sides, a range of armored vehicles, anti-aircraft weapons systems, combat aircraft and artillery will be deployed in Romania.
NATO’s move in Romania, a member of NATO since 2004, came amid a NATO armored vehicle convoy travelling through the Baltics and Eastern Europe, sending a message of reassurance of the military alliance’s support in the Czech Republic.
The convoy, dubbed “the Dragoon Ride,” is driving through the Baltics and Eastern Europe on a return journey to a German base seeking to provide reassurance to a region concerned that the conflict between Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian government forces in Ukraine threatens its security. The convoy attracted interest and greetings from people along its route through Latvia and Lithuania before entering Poland. NATO also launched a major exercise in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia where Russian involvement in an 11-month war in Ukraine has rattled nerves. In the face of a possible proxy war with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, the U.S., a founding member of NATO, is stepping up its military presence in the former Soviet Baltic states.
Consistently at odds, there has still been a strained relationship between NATO and Russia due to conflicting interests, and Russia remains the biggest challenge for the North Atlantic alliance. Russia also considers NATO to be the country’s number-one national security threat. Russian aggression in Ukraine has resulted in the deterioration of the post-Cold War security order in Europe that had been protected under the NATO-Russia founding act signed in 1997, the aim of which was to build peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. The Russian military presence inside Ukraine’s border was seen as a breach of the principles of the founding act and a violation of international law, national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Apart from the intensified Ukrainian war and Russian annexation of Crimea, there has been a long history of deteriorating bilateral relations. Recalling the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 and Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, tensions increased following NATO military exercises in Georgia. The defense of Europe against Russia has remained the alliance’s core function.

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