The US has formally asked Romania’s president Traian Basescu to send an additional number of stationed troops and aircraft at its Black Sea air base on the eastern coast of Romania following the Crimea fallout. The proposed increase in troops would add 60 percent more troops than is already there, from the current level of 1,000 to 1,600. The Black Sea base, also known as Mihail Kogalniceanu base, currently has the capacity for 2,000 active troops.
President Basescu went on to say that the US Embassy in Romania’s capital of Bucharest have “asked for support” from Romanian officials to help bolster operations at the Mihail Kogalniceanu base.
The move comes after rising tension in Ukraine over Russia’s annexation of the ethnically Russian peninsula of Crimea. Analysts are saying that while the US is seeking to protect Ukraine and western interests, it is also a part of a larger trend in US foreign policy to increase US presence in Eastern Europe.
Mihail Kogalniceanu base is a major hub for US forces and equipment, and much of the equipment found resting there are brought over following operations in Afghanistan and northern Iraq.
Crimea’s voluntary seccession from Ukraine and option to join Russia has the international community vowing revenge, declaring it an act that has violated international law and the sovereignty of Ukraine. Crimean officials say they are merely exercising their right to self-determination, a right bestowed to nations since Woodrow Wilson first proposed the idea under the League of Nations almost a century ago.
Still, US and western officials have condemned the move and have pushed for sanctions against Russia. Excluding Russia from the annual G8 summit, officials around the world are searching for different avenues to shun the Eastern power from global decision making.
A bill passed in the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly threw support behind Ukraine and the further penalization of Russia.
Even after such international condemnation, President Vladimir Putin has hardly been discouraged, signing into law official documents making Crimea a formal part of Russian territory.
A NATO alliance meeting in Brussels on Tuesday covered the issue of how to continue strengthening the security of member states in Eastern Europe. One such move included the increase in forces in the Black Sea, only a few hundred miles away from the Crimean peninsula.
Observers say NATO’s presence following the Cold War was a case of an organization that no longer had any objective to complete. Some even suggested the disbanding of the organization. Officials say the latest debacle between the US and Russia has provided NATO with a sense of purpose once again, and the latest increase in military support to Russia’s former satellite states is just an extension of its original mission.
The announcement from Romanian president Basescu was addressed to Romania’s lower house of parliament Tuesday. Romania, which boasts a population of 20 million people, is one of the largest countries in Europe, fitting within its borders almost all of the countries that made up the former state of Yugoslavia. Romania is also the second poorest country in the European Union, and has a median income of $685 a month. Members of Romania’s government are said to have welcomed the additional American forces which could generate much needed revenue to the post-communist economy of Romania.
by John Amaruso