The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union advocates an increase in NATO’s presence in the Black Sea, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday.
“While Europeans apply decisions on sanctions and must continue to do so strictly, NATO should strengthen further its deterrence and defence posture on the Eastern flank. That is why Romania supported enhanced cohesion on the eastern flank between its northern and southern parts. The Black Sea region, where the security environment is increasingly challenged, as we have recently seen, needs more NATO presence”, Iohannis said at the Munich Security Conference.
He also stressed that the European Union cannot ignore “challenges on the eastern flank.”
The announcement of the Romanian President addressed a recent statement of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said that the alliance was considering the possibility of expanding its presence in the Black Sea in order to provide additional support to Ukraine in the region.
The situation in the Black Sea deteriorated after, on November 25, Ukraine’s Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats, and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border, sailing toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. Russia seized the Ukrainian vessels and detained 24 people on board after they failed to respond to a demand to stop. After the incident, a criminal case on illegal border crossing was opened in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the incident was a provocation prepared by Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko in advance as a pretext to declare martial law in Ukraine.