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November 20, 2019
DIPLOMACY

Russian Ambassador Valeri Kuzmin: NATO Black Sea fleet will bring tensions; we are hearing pretexts for multinational brigade

Russian Ambassador to Romania Valeri Kuzmin stated that a possible NATO fleet in the Black Sea will bring extra tensions, and the multinational brigade that will be based in Craiova is part of a campaign to deploy heavy military equipment and carry out military exercises near Russia’s borders.

“If you were to have such a fleet, we don’t believe in such a fleet as long as it’s only an assumption. And it’s no secret, as far as I can tell, that there will be a NATO fleet. This will bring extra tensions, which nobody needs in this region. For several reasons, especially because we have conventions that limit foreign presence in this region, for example the Montreux Convention, and, you see, the whole planet has become fairly small. You see that tensions in one region can influence other regions, even distant regions. But here, in this fairly small region, obviously we don’t believe an excess concentration of naval forces would be a positive development for the region,” the Russian diplomat said in an interview with Digi24.

He was also asked how Russia views the multinational brigade in Craiova.

“We see these things in a wider framework, in a much wider context. You know that close to the end of the 1990s, last century, Russia and NATO signed a fundamental document which stipulated that massive combat troops would not be deployed close to Russia. We believe that any such forces, which are already in other countries and also partially in Romania too, new army units are being deployed to certain countries and we are told not to worry because they are deployed on rotational basis, the military personnel stay there only 6 months and then the troops are rotated. We believe there isn’t much of a difference regarding the bases the troops are in, whether they are permanent or rotational. This is a pretext and it’s already a fact that the pretext is being used in order for heavy military equipment to be deployed, for complex military exercises to be carried out close to our borders. We believe this is the difference. You see, maybe I’ll pre-empt the next question, namely that Russia organises military exercises. We have to always recall that we are organising them on our national territory. In what concerns NATO forces, they are being brought here from over long distances, sometimes from beyond the ocean,” he said.

At the end of the Supreme Defence Council meeting in September, President Klaus Iohannis announced that the multinational brigade agreed at the NATO Summit in Warsaw will be based in Craiova and will have Romania’s 2nd Infantry Brigade at its core. He reiterated that the brigade’s initial capacity will be declared in 2017, which means that its organisation will start, and the brigade will become operational in 2018 in the most optimistic scenario.

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