GEOPOLITICS OF ROMANIA
US army tanks and soldiers continued being deployed on Tuesday to an air base in southern Romania, after the first shipment of tanks had arrived the day before. The tanks were offloaded from a train in the village of Mihail Kogalniceanu, where they would be taken to a nearby military air base. The deployment, known as Operation Atlantic Resolve, is part of an American operation to reassure NATO allies and other partners concerned about Russia. Five hundred US soldiers will eventually be deployed at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Constanta County. The operation foresees the continuous presence of an American armoured brigade combat team in Europe on a nine-month rotational basis.
A US Air Force F16 jet takes off during the joint Romanian-US military drill ‘Dacian Viper 2014’ at the Campia Turzii military airbase, April 2014. Archive photo: EPA/MIRCEA ROSCA
The US Air Force will this month start awarding contracts for construction work to upgrade the Campia Turzii base, enabling it to support heavy cargo aircraft and host fighter jets, boosting NATO’s capacities in the Black Sea area.
“We are getting ready to award four projects for construction between May and August 2021,” Darren Walls, a design and construction program manager at the European Deterrence Initiative launched by the US after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, said in a US Air Force statement quoted on Tuesday by Romanian media.
“The upgrade is important because Romania needs to boost its capacity to receive further NATO aircraft in case of a crisis or conflict that require a collective response,” former Romanian official and security expert Claudiu Degeratu told BIRN.
“Romania also needs a second major air base that meets NATO standards so it can serve its newly acquired F-16 jets,” Degeratu added.
He said that Russia’s buildup of troops around the Ukrainian border in April “shows that a quick renovation of the Campia Turzii base is needed”.
Romania and its US allies already have a large NATO airbase at Mihail Kogalniceanu near the Black Sea. The improvements at Campia Turzii will increase the US and NATO’s capabilities to respond to any potential threats and deter Russia in the region.
US Navy Captain Scott Raymont, the US European Command’s Logistic Directorate chief engineer, explained recently that the reconstruction works at Campia Turzii “include the construction of airfield infrastructure and supporting facilities necessary”.
This will enable the base “to sustain the [US] Air Force’s combat operation and surveillance missions while increasing logistics capabilities in the theatre”, he added.
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the Black Sea has become a strategic priority for the US and NATO defence in Europe, as the Kremlin has heavily increased its activity and presence near the Western military alliance’s south-eastern flank.
As a result, the US and Romania have intensified their military cooperation. Former US President Donald Trump’s administration planned to redeploy some of the US troops he ordered out of Germany last year to Romania and Poland – a move welcomed by Romanian and Polish officials.
On May 10 this year, leaders of Central and Eastern European NATO member states met in Bucharest to discuss the recent mass deployment of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.
“I advocated a bigger presence of the alliance and the US in the south of the [NATO] eastern flank,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said he told his US counterpart Joe Biden, who took part in the summit remotely.