Romania will spend 2.5 billion euros to modernize the Black Sea military base as part of counteracting Russia’s growing presence in the region, according to The Times, quoted by the FOCUS News Agency. Mikhail Koglignichanu Airbase, located about 200 km. east of Bucharest, will be aligned with NATO standards, as evidenced by documents published by local news sites. Up to 10,000 NATO F-35 soldiers and aircraft can be accommodated there. It is planned to become a “mini-city” for the military with kindergartens, sports clubs and a hospital.
The base has already become a center of increased NATO activity in the Black Sea, which has become a key area of tension between Russia and the West. After Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, the Kremlin began to increase its naval presence in the Black Sea, using the deep-sea base in Sevastopol to carry out naval missions in Syria. Russia is also hampering shipping in the region and last year captured three Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait.
Romania and Bulgaria, located on the Black Sea coast, which in the past were allies of the USSR, have joined NATO and the EU since its collapse. In response to Russia’s actions, they have asked the alliance to strengthen its presence in the region, writes The Times. In February, 500 US troops arrived at Romania’s air base. An Eurofighter Typhoon fighter squadron of the British Air Force is stationed and deployed. Since April last year, these aircraft have repeatedly intercepted Russian fighter jets. Georgia, located on the eastern Black Sea coast, is also concerned about Russia’s aspirations. It is not a member of the alliance, but is involved in NATO military exercises. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Tbilisi in March that the alliance was “preparing” Georgia for accession. Ukraine has also participated in NATO exercises in the region and has been developing its engagement with the Union since 2014.