Romania: French Colonel Clement Torrent receives his orders shortly after Russia invades Ukraine. He had six months to build a base for 1,000 troops on NATO's eastern border.
Currently, he is working with 200 soldiers from France, Belgium and the Netherlands to level a hilltop in Transylvania, a region in Romania.
From the base near Cincu, about 260 kilometers (162 mi) north of Bucharest by road, Torrent, leader of the Engineer Task Force, declared, "Our due date is before the first frost." "It is a display of unity. A partnership must have essence.
Russia's war on its neighbor has provided a fundamental answer to a fundamental question that North Atlantic Treaty Organization states have been asking for years: Will older members such as the US, France and Germany fight for less wealthy ex-communist allies if they is attacked? As Western powers rush to counter the threat posed by Vladimir Putin.
The question of whether the coalition is doing enough to thwart Russian expansionism after years of underfunding and heedless warnings, as well as attempts to consolidate the already less-than-less Black Sea region, should have happened a long time ago.
Six months after Putin's invasion of Ukraine, NATO remains firmly focused on how to thwart Russia in Europe's southeast and transform one of the poorest regions into the continent's weakest point in terms of security. be stopped from
Europe and Asia are separated by the Black Sea, which is bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia. It connects to the Mediterranean Sea via the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey and is an important trade route for agricultural products from Ukraine and Russia.
According to Matthew Orr, a security analyst at Stratfor, Moscow has given priority to countries in Southeast Europe. "The increased military presence of the Russians there," he said, "shows how concerned they are about the region and that they want to have a strong military footprint there." As a result, NATO must act.
After Moscow invaded Georgia in 2008, Eastern European leaders had long warned that Russia was a growing threat. Then, in 2014, Putin launched a conflict in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
At the same time that it has increased activity in conflict zones such as Libya and Syria, where it has a naval base, the Kremlin has expanded its base in the Black Sea by reorganizing its land forces, strengthening its air defence, and modernizing its maritime fleet. Improved military capabilities.
Iulia Joza, director of the Black Sea program at the Middle East Institute think tank in Washington, said that "the Black Sea is Russia's gateway to warm waters, especially to the Mediterranean Sea." It serves as Russia's entry point to project force and power into Africa, the Middle East and beyond.
At a summit in Brussels held just weeks after the invasion on 24 February, the coalition decided to form four additional battle groups for Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia, which had already been sent to Poland and the Baltic. states as part of the so-called "tripwire" strategy.
Before the war, the Black Sea base at Mihail Kogalnicanu served as a transit point for conflict zones in the Middle East, and Romania, a country of about 19 million people, was already hosting about 1,000 US NATO troops. .
NATO allies significantly increased their presence on the alliance's eastern borders in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine by deploying more troops, aircraft and ships.
The current strategy is to establish garrisons in the remaining NATO border states, where a new international force of about 1,000 troops will be regularly moved in and out.
The Baltic states and Poland have long advocated for that increased presence. Although it has yet to take any real action, Russia has threatened to retaliate.
By linking up with host-country armies and pre-positioning weapons, ammunition and heavy equipment, those forces could be multiplied in size to a 5,000-strong brigade, according to Colonel Flavian Garrigou Grandchamp, France's senior national representative in Romania. Is.
We are getting ready to fight with US, Romanian and other troops, he announced. "If that happens we will fight, worst case scenario."
A significant upgrade to the coalition's defense, approved by leaders in Madrid in July, will see hundreds of thousands of Allied troops in a state of heightened readiness under NATO command.
Despite the fact that most officials do not believe Russia will attack a NATO member directly, Garrigou Grandchamp said the coalition has now "for several years deployed foreign troops to its borders to ensure that the situation is stabilized". intends to keep."
This will require investment, which Romania and its neighbor to the south, Bulgaria, are sorely lacking.
Three years before becoming a member of the European Union, the former Soviet Union countries joined NATO in 2004. They are still working to close a wealth gap with their wealthier allies, which is impeding efforts on everything from helping Ukraine export grain to housing refugees.
In an interview on August 2, Romania's Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said, "It's not just about defence, it's about food security. Therefore, I applaud all of the decisions made to strengthen defence and deterrence along the entire eastern flank.
The other, more important area of investment is strengthening the armed forces of Romania. The majority of Nato members have long fallen short of the alliance's mandate to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence.
However, Romania has achieved that goal since 2015 and will raise it to 2.5% in 2019 as it gets ready to splurge on everything from tanks and submarines to fighter jets and armoured personnel carriers.
Overall, the cost of purchasing the military will be at least €12 billion ($12.2 billion). A €4 billion Patriot anti-air missile battery that will go into service this year has so far been the largest component.
According to schedule, the French-led base at Cincu ought to be operating at full capacity by the end of the year.
According to Colonel Christophe Degand, the commander of the Battle Group Forward Presence and the 8e Régiment Parachutiste d'Infanterie de Marine, "We are the closest French soldiers deployed to the conflict zone." "You want to be in if there is a spark and some people are deploying."