U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is visiting the frontline states of Georgia, Ukraine and Romania before traveling to Belgium for the NATO Defense Ministerial Meeting in Brussels of October 21-22. In connection with these visits, the Romanian press published a number of comments. All the three states from the Black Sea region “have a geostrategic stake from the perspective of the tense relations with Russia”, RFE/RL Romania (REL) said, being quoted by IPN.
“Russia is very active in the Black Sea region and uses its power to interfere in activities there,” the U.S. Department of Defense explains. The document reminded of the incident of 2018, when Russia blocked access to the Azov Sea for a number of Ukrainian commercial vessels, which represented “an act of harassment” with an economic impact on Ukraine and on the whole Black Sea region. In Ukraine on Tuesday, Lloyd Austin reiterated the U.S.’ support in the context of the confrontations with Russia, saying that Moscow is an obstacle to a peaceful resolution, said REL. In Romania, the Secretary is to conclude his visit by meeting with rotational U.S. forces deployed to Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base near the Black Sea coast, which had been used by the U.S. since 2014 to facilitate transit to and from Afghanistan.
Security and stability in the Black Sea region are in the national interest of the United States and are critical in terms of the security of the Eastern Flank, Lloyd J. Austin III said on Wednesday in a press conference with his Romanian counterpart Nicolae Ciuca. He said that “it is obvious that the region is vulnerable to Russian aggression and we have seen this from the actions taking place in eastern Ukraine, the occupation of several parts of Georgia, the militarization of the Black Sea and the provocative actions in the air and at sea,” stated Lloyd Austin, being quoted by TVR. “I'd go on to say that the destabilizing activities in the Black Sea area reflect Russia’s ambitions to regain a dominant position in the region and to stop the creation of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace. Again, the Black Sea region is part of the US national interest and we will be focused on it and we will continue to work with our partners in the region,” the US Secretary of Defense added.
“We are reassuring and reinforcing the sovereignty of countries that are on the front lines of Russian aggression.”
All three countries are in the NATO orbit -- Romania a full member and Georgia and Ukraine partner states. All three also sit on the rim of the Black Sea, where Russia has sought to expand its own influence and prevent expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the US-European alliance, reported Agerpres.