Stoltenberg Says NATO to Boost Romania Presence


NATO will send units to Romania, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday, on top of battalions being deployed in the three Baltic states and Poland in response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

NATO has undergone a major revamp since the Ukraine crisis and Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, beefing up its presence in member states once ruled from Moscow to reassure them they will not be left in the lurch.

Stoltenberg said NATO defense ministers meeting at Brussels HQ would take up an offer by Romania to deploy forces there.

The ministers will also formally approve deployment of four "robust" multinational battalions in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland announced on Monday.

"We will take decisions on a tailored presence for the southeast region, with a land element built around a multinational framework brigade in Romania," Stoltenberg told reporters as the two-day ministers meeting got underway.

This unit will "organize and facilitate NATO activities in the region related to exercises and also assurance measures," he said.

Russia has bitterly opposed NATO's expansion into its Soviet-era satellites and says the measures being taken directly undermine its security.

Last month, NATO formally opened a missile defense base in Romania, sparking a furious Russian response and threats it would take action to counter what it said was a threat to its nuclear deterrent.

Stoltenberg gave no details as to how many troops could be deployed in Romania.

Diplomatic sources say the four battalions in the Baltic states and Poland are likely to number 2,500-3,000 troops combined, with the small force designed to act as a tripwire.

NATO leaders are due to formally endorse the alliance revamp, including the battalion deployments, at a landmark July 8-9 summit in Poland.