Security and stability in the Black Sea region are in the national interest of the United States and are critical in terms of the security of the Eastern Flank, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said on Wednesday in a press conference with his Romanian counterpart Nicolae Ciuca.
He said that “it is obvious that the region is vulnerable to Russian aggression and we have seen this from the actions taking place in eastern Ukraine, the occupation of several parts of Georgia, the militarization of the Black Sea and the provocative actions in the air and at sea.”
I’d go on to say that the destabilising activities in the Black Sea area reflect (Russia’s, ed. n.) ambitions to regain a dominant position in the region and to stop the creation of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace. Again, the Black Sea region is part of the US national interest and we will be focused on it and we will continue to work with our partners in the region, the US Secretary of Defense added.
Lloyd J. Austin III also said that he discussed with Minister Nicolae Ciuca about “deepening the cooperation with allies and partners in the Black Sea area in order to discourage and defend against Russia’s malignant activities in the region”.
“As mentioned during my visit to Kiev, the US will continue to provide assistance to strengthen the maritime capabilities of Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Georgia to support these efforts, he underlined. Furthermore, he emphasised that the US posture in the region continues to be a “credible deterrent” to Russia’s actions and makes NATO forces operate more effectively if deterrence has no effect.
And this stems from our commitment to maintaining our rotating military missions. We continue to have about 1,000 soldiers, by rotation, in Romania (…), sometimes we participate in this country in the exercises and we intend to continue these activities”, he said, according to Agerpres.
The US Secretary of Defense also stressed that he values Romania’s “extraordinary partnership and cooperation” in terms of regional security.
Lloyd J. Austin III was welcomed by President Klaus Iohannis at Cotroceni Palace.
Subsequently, he will go visit the southeastern military base at Mihail Kogalniceanu.
The US Secretary of Defense’s visit to Romania is part of a tour that also includes Georgia and Ukraine, before attending the NATO meeting in Brussels, which begins on Thursday.