NATO has pledged to expand its military presence in Eastern Europe to protect its partners and allies from potential threats as the US sends two of the world’s most advanced warplanes to Romania.
In a speech at the University of Bucharest in Romania on Tuesday NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow discussed the main issues the Western alliance is facing.
He said the alliance is struggling with many complex risks apart from the “destabilizing actions” of Russia and “the tide of instability which has swept across the Middle East and North Africa.”
“We are also wrestling with other complex risks and threats to our cyber security, to our energy supplies, and in the case of international terrorism to the safety of the people on our streets,” he said.
Vershbow said NATO is doing everything to respond to these challenges, adding that “the alliance takes a 360 degree approach to deterring threats, to protecting its member nations and if necessary to defending them.”
“That presence will be rotational, multinational, and combat capable. It will thereby send a clear message to any potential aggressor that if they violate NATO's territory, they will face strong response from the whole alliance; Americans, Europeans and home defense forces,” he said.
The NATO secretary general also said that the organization has “set up a series of small headquarters, including here in Romania, to support planning, training and re-enforcement.”
“We are intensifying our maritime patrols, exploring the need for increased military and exercises, providing support to partners like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova and encouraging efforts to strengthen energy security,” he said.
US sends F-22 Raptors to Romania
Vershbow’s comments came a day after the US sent two F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Romania as part of the commitment to NATO security.
The fighter jets, which travel at twice the speed of sound, touched down in Romania, close to the Black Sea and Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula and Russia.
A US statement said the aircraft possess sophisticated sensors which would allow pilots to track, identify, shoot and destroy air-to-air threats without being detected.
The dispatch of the fighter jets, which can also attack surface targets, came two weeks after Russian fighter jets buzzed an American warship in the Baltic Sea.
The Western military alliance has been deploying troops and equipment close to Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Crimean Peninsula integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the Ukrainian crisis.
This as Moscow has on many occasions slammed the Western military alliance’s expansion near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.